Mt. Sinabung, mostly dormant for 400 years, continues to spew ash and threatens to erupt again…this volcano has been doing small eruptions for the last three years. It has shot enough volcanic fine ash to cause sunsets to glow longer than when there are no eruptions, I notice every evening, the zenith of ‘brightness’ is quite obvious. This is the setting sun shining on very fine dust well above cloud level. It is best seen when there is low humidity and no lower clouds, such as when a cold front passes through. Volcanoes cause climate change. Major eruptions can cause gigantic climate and life form changes, one ancient eruption nearly annihilated all humanoids.
It pays to heed volcanoes for they are capable of global effects. The biological wealth of this planet is tied to both underwater and above ground volcanic activity. A geologically ‘dead’ planet is one that can’t sustain life. Volcanoes add chemicals and minerals to the planet which life depends on for sustenance.
One of the great discoveries of the last 50 years was the deep sea vents where tectonic plates clash. Despite being extremely deep in the ocean with great water pressure, life teems in these various vents and this stunned oceanic explorers using deep sea diving bells.
The chances are great that all life on earth sprang up in the oceans where volcanic vents enriched the surrounding water which is why life forms have odd mineral content (which our bones for example, come from). Our planet is still very much ‘alive’ due to a major force: the moon.
The moon moves oceans, no shoreline is stationary thanks to the moon. The moon also disrupts wind patterns so that we don’t have stationary bands of wind like most of the planets, the moons of the outer planets are too small to disrupt the wind bands on Jupiter and Saturn.
I am assuming that volcanic activity three billion years ago was greater than today due to the moon being much closer to the earth back then. Although volcanic eruptions can cause us great problems, without this, we would not exist very long. Volcanoes and life on earth are twins, intertwined.
Mt. Agung, which last major eruption was 50 years ago, changed my father’s science focus for a while when we were driving towards Los Angeles when it erupted and we saw, in the Mohave Desert which as near zero humidity, a super high band of fine dust that went from horizon to horizon, it was immense. My father photographed it and was very excited for there had been no major eruptions since the 19th century Krakatoa and my grandfather, who was also an astronomer back then, heard about how it changed the sunset so my father wanted to see if this was due to high dust, etc.
And it was. It changed the climate, too. The 1960’s were quite ‘cool’. This was due to a volcanic eruption. The smaller Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines happened when I was building a house on a mountain in New York and when it happened, I told my husband we were in deep trouble, we had to secure ourselves for that following year which would be very cold and lots of snow. And immediately, it became cold, in June, we had to wear winter coats. We were buried in howling blizzards that winter, it was very hard and it went down to -43 degrees F in January.
This is why we must heed volcanoes…they can, if a big enough eruption, cause climate change that is very sudden. Two major volcanoes in Indonesia are beginning to erupt or threatening to erupt. If two go off at the same rough time, we may be in for a rough time, ourselves. This is the price we must pay for a living planet that makes life possible.