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Amazing. I don't know of anything in human experience that would have led someone to anticipate this -- perhaps one of our geo-knowledgeable people can say more about this.

On a tangent --

Mother Nature can store up some remarkably nasty stuff underground:

...Vast volumes of basaltic lava paved over a large expanse of primeval Siberia in a flood basalt event. Today the area covered is about 2 million km² and estimates of the original coverage are as high as 7 million km². The original volume of lava is estimated to range from 1 to 4 million km³.


Of course that was about 500 million years ago. In what is almost the modern era, from the perspective of deep geology, events of this sort have been more moderate:

...The bulk of the volcanic eruption occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai)some 66 million years ago....it is estimated that the original area covered by the lava flows was as large as 1.5 million km². The present volume of lava is estimated to have been 512,000 km³.


And almost yesterday:

The Yellowstone Caldera, sometimes known as the Yellowstone supervolcano, is a volcanically active region in Yellowstone National Park. It measures 55 kilometers (34 mi) by 72 kilometers (44 mi)....within the past two million years, it has undergone three extremely large explosive eruptions, up to 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption....the most recent such eruption produced the Lava Creek Tuff 640,000 years ago and spread a layer of volcanic ash over most of the North American continent. Smaller steam explosions occur every 20,000 years or so; an explosion 13,000 years ago left a 5 kilometer diameter crater....


The widespread image of nature as benign and stable is false, and is a psychological obstacle to proper appreciation of the growing climate crisis.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Fri Oct 6th, 2006 at 05:14:22 PM EST
I'm as perfectly baffled as many. I did a small round of chats, but everyone I spoke to is just scratching their heads just like I do. So I think I'll just echo your observation for now: I don't know of any prior example that could possibly have helped in anticipating this disaster. This is a super blow out of mud - has that been observed in the oil industry before?

While I was reading up on it, I found this beauty of insult after injury: "At least the mud is not toxic".

As for a calm peaceful Earth, that's an illusion humanity has selected because we've been relatively abstained from sudden, catastrophical events. And in that tangent, I am the one predicting gloom this time: as long as the human population grows, these kind of disasters will get a whole lot worse in scale, number and severity. And if Yellowstone would actually go, we're really in for a world of hurt.

(BTW, small correction, the Siberian traps are dated some 249-250 million years ago. The Wikipedia entry is deceptive at this point by stating it was "the biggest in 500 million years". Check out the website at the University of Bristol, here, for an easy introduction on the topic.)

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 09:16:20 AM EST
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Only 250 million years ago? Yikes! That was a close one.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 04:56:46 AM EST
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man, that is serious...

when i lived in hawaii during the 80's, kilauea volcano on mauna kea was churning out enough lava PER DAY to make a 6-lane highway from new york to chicago, pouring into the ocean and making it boil, with clouds of sulpuric acidulous steam, and sometimes turning instantly to a roughish black sand.

mama nature don't mess around...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 03:34:12 AM EST
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