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A Look at the Real Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Volcanic Eruptions

A Look at the Real Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Volcanic Eruptions

Looking at volcanoes in Iceland, Italy and California…realizing “they have the capacity to disrupt and override all of our collective efforts aimed at controlling GHG concentrations.”

I have been monitoring the reports coming from Iceland after the nation declared an emergency and issued evacuation orders for a popular tourist location, as 1,400 earthquakes were recorded in 24 hours, indicating a volcanic eruption could be imminent.

The earthquakes are continuing, and a nearly 10-mile magma tunnel appears underneath the evacuated town. It appears that there is much more magma associated with this developing event than there was with the 2021 eruption of Fagradalsfjall.

According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), a magma tunnel stretching 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) formed beneath the ground between Sundhnúkur in the north and Grindavík. The area affected also encompasses the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa — a tourist hotspot that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Magma in the tunnel — also known as a dike — appears to be rising to the surface, and there is a high risk of it breaking through. The greatest area of magma upwelling is currently close to Sundhnúkur, about 2 miles (3.5 km) northeast of Grindavík, according to the IMO.

Researchers believe the amount of magma in the tunnel is “significantly more” than what was present during the eruptions at Fagradalsfjall, which sparked back to life in 2021 after more than 800 years of inactivity.

Reviewing the data, Edward W. Marshall (a researcher at the University of Iceland’s Nordic Volcanological Center) suggested that the potentially imminent eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula is part of a 1,000-year cycle of volcanic activity that will likely go on for centuries.

Attention is now turning to two super-volcanoes, as seismic activity around them may indicate large deposits of magma are now on the move.

In recent months, more than a thousand minor earthquakes have rattled the area around the Campi Flegrei volcano in southern Italy, stoking fears that it may soon erupt again after nearly five centuries. Some 6,000 miles away, scientists have for decades recorded similarly small earthquakes and instances of ground deformation at the Long Valley Caldera, a volcano in eastern California that sits adjacent to Mammoth Mountain.

But does all this seismic unrest really portend a volcanic eruption? It sort of depends on whom you ask.

Most experts say there is no immediate threat of an eruption at either Long Valley or Campi Flegrei. Both volcanoes are calderas — sprawling depressions created long ago by violent “super-eruptions” that essentially collapsed in on themselves — which are often more challenging to forecast compared to the large mountain-shaped features that people typically imagine when they think of volcanoes.

The Italian city of Naples and its surrounding towns are all near Campi Flegrei, and have developed plans to evacuate tens of thousands of people from the area. Researchers focused on the Long Valley Caldera indicate the seismic activity may be associated with cooling rock, and there is far less jeopardy of a major eruption…which is good news for me, living in California as I do.

New research on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea signifies a long history of periodic super-volcanic eruptions from Campi Flegrei impacting Europe at a regular cycle of 10,000 to 15,000 years.

Huge “megabeds” from ancient supervolcano eruptions are hiding at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, researchers have found. Their discovery points to a cycle of catastrophic events that appear to hit the region every 10,000 to 15,000 years.

Megabeds are huge submarine deposits that form in marine basins as a result of catastrophic events like volcanic eruptions.

The researchers found the beds while investigating deposits at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea, near the coast of Italy, close to a large underwater volcano.

…The oldest megabed formed after a huge eruption from Campi Flegrei 39,000 years ago — one of the biggest known eruptions on Earth. The same eruption may also have created the second bed, as the layer between the two is just 3.2 feet (1 m) — indicating a relatively short interval between the two events.

One question that many people ask is how much greenhouse gas volcanic eruptions give off. Geologist and climate expert Dr. Matthew Wielicki thoroughly answers this question, looking at emissions data from direct and indirect measurements.

Although, large volcanoes can have emission rates that are equivalent to humans for a short time. For example, Mount St. Helens is estimated to have emitted up to 25 million tonnes of CO2 per hour during the first few hours of its eruption in 1980. This is equivalent to the daily CO2 emissions of a small country like Estonia, for the first few hours of the nine-hour eruption. It is important to note that such eruptions are rather [rare].

….However, looking at the geological record, there have been periods where volcanic activity, especially from super-volcanic eruptions, released massive quantities of GHGs, exceeding all human emissions.

For example, the Central Magmatic Province (CAMP) is a large igneous province (LIP) that formed approximately 200 million years ago. It is one of the largest LIPs on Earth, and it is thought to have been formed by a series of eruptions. The CAMP is estimated to have released between 6.5 and 13.4 trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to approximately 100-200 years of human CO2 emissions at current rates.

In summary: Everyday volcanic activity does not release significant amounts of CO2 when compared with human activity, but one large eruption – especially from a super-volcano – is a greenhouse gas game-changer:

It’s essential to recognize that volcanoes underscore the unpredictable and erratic nature of the climate system, where at any given moment, they have the capacity to disrupt and override all of our collective efforts aimed at controlling GHG concentrations.

I think the last statement would offer a valuable lesson in humility for those who would try to control climate by micromanaging the concentration of a life-essential gas.


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And some emissions from volcanic eruptions can result in global cooling that may last for years.

    We live on a thin skin 3-7 miles thick of tectonic plates floating on about 8,000 miles of molten rock at about 1,000 degrees Celsius.

    No, we really need to control cow farts because that will cause a temperature increase in that lava.

Maybe we can nuke the volcano. Nukes don’t emit CO2, problem solved.

(URI has or had ties to a world class volcanologist, Haraldur Sigurðsson. Go Rams!!)

That is the key word when dealing with the natural world; humility. Mankind can and does make alterations but they are usually fleeting and inconsequential to the flora. Obviously mankind has proven very dangerous to fauna there are many species we killed off entirely in our drive to compete and survive; mammoths as one. At root we are hairless murder apes with a thin veneer of civilization standing between us and our Hobbesian impulses. Don’t believe it? See Hamas or get in a way back machine and ask the extinct species of hominids that Homo Sapiens killed and probably ate until they were gone.

This is why culture and tradition is so important. It works as the resistor to the ‘current’ of upheaval/change. Without more/less common agreement and buy in to the cultural norms, expected civic duties/responsibilities society degrades from high trust to low trust. We stop looking outside family, friends and close neighbors for potential help, simultaneously restricting our own offerings of help/support to those groups denying it to the larger society.

    Mammoth extinction was the result of climate change, not human hunting. Although human hunting might have accelerated the extinction, it did not cause it. Neither the climate change of that era, or the extinction of species from that era, can be attributed to human activity.

      CommoChief in reply to smooth. | November 17, 2023 at 8:04 am

      If the naturally occurring climate change reduces the optimal area for mammoths to range which in turn reduces population and the remaining much smaller population is hunted until none remain….that’s more than a little bit on us.

      Homo sapiens are very proficient killers. We are smaller and weaker than most predators but we can use higher order reasoning to develop tools, tactics language/symbols to communicate that knowledge among ourselves and to later generations we never met. Despite the probability that any alien species is gonna be aggressive and more technologically advanced they gonna have to work for a victory v us hairless murder apes. We are damn proficient killers and sit at the apex of the food chain despite our physical weakness.

        You are using a very common current fallacy of judging the actions of the past by modern standards. This is the current fad in “slavery” discussions. Humans of 10,000+ years ago were just trying to survive. They didn’t have the information and knowledge to understand what was going on with the diminishing numbers of megafauna in North America. And even if they had stopped hunting them, megafauna would have eventually disappeared, just later.

          CommoChief in reply to BillB52. | November 17, 2023 at 11:39 am

          You are absolutely projecting that b/c I am making no judgement at all. I merely point out that Homo Sapiens are very effective at killing. We survived and out completed other Hominids b/c we out fought them. IOW we are.better killers than they were both at killing other Hominids and in killing animals for food.

          We have this thin veneer of civilization that keeps our violence in check….until it doesn’t. We are one generation away from reverting to our base nature where we compete, often violently, with each other to survive. Many folks have zero understanding of the natural world and how harsh it is.

          As an experiment next summer take your children’s and/or Grand children’s cell phone’s. Heck put yours down and don’t order any food, just go to the grocery and your garden and home cook every meal for the entire summer. Most folks can’t bring themselves to do it especially those under 30. Their food comes from the app on the phone, cash comes from the ATM it is awfully similar to a cargo cult in some ways.

        The old science was mammoth was hunted into extinction by early humans. New science is there was period of global warming thousands of years ago that can’t be blamed on human activity, that impacted the mammoth food supply. The old science seems to have been supplanted by the new science. Climate change has been ongoing for millions of years and it might be questionable if human activity can change that. Humans can be blamed for driving other species into extinction, including threatening african elephants.

          CommoChief in reply to smooth. | November 17, 2023 at 4:42 pm

          IMO it was very likely both. A naturally occurring warming cycle which reduced habitat and humans hunting to feed themselves.

          To be very clear acknowledging that Homo Sapiens killed off X animal to survive in a
          pre-agrarian society isn’t casting ‘blame’. That is far different than the Dodo bird extinction. Even today its one thing for a comparatively rich Nation like the US to set aside wilderness areas to protect habitat and restrict hunting to particular seasons and bag limits. It’s not reasonable to demand the same in a far poorer Nation where folks are hunting not by option but out of necessity. Same for the foolish net zero demands in the 3rd world; these folks can’t have AC and modern life?

Leslie: There was a Jet Propulsion article written in 8/22/2022 that a volcanic eruption in Tonga pushed so much seawater into the stratosphere that it would affect climate change for years.

The left isn’t trying to control the environment. They’re trying to control us. They rode the communism train in the effort to control us. And they succeeded with a large percentage of the population, USSR, Red China, all Muslim countries (Islam is a commie clone). And they’re not done riding that train. The climate change scam is simple another way of controlling us.

I saw an article this morning claiming that an Iceland eruption would only be 1% of human emissions, it was a stupid argument, in that we have no idea what the severity will be and they were ignoring the rest of the volcanos in the world. I bet that China, Soros, et el are backing this crap to damage America’s economy.

drop a global warming virgin into the currently erupting volcano to appease the global warming/cooling gods
volunteers please line up to the right – oops! meant to say the left.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to paracelsus. | November 16, 2023 at 9:17 pm

    Perhaps Greta Van Bitchy can be the first to sacrifice herself for the greater good of mankind.

    But I am concerned that it would piss off the gods of thunder spewing out magma from middle earth.

Humility from the climate cultists? Surely you just, Leslie. 😄

This puts the Greenies into perspective with their constant “Save the Planet” bs! Of course, it is good to be efficient and clean but to go to the efforts that they constantly harangue us with amounts to nothing in the big picture.

There has been a prehistoric volcanic eruption that has released more greenhouse gasses into the air than all of human activity combined since 1800.

The green new deal is a grift, plain and simple.


a regular cycle of 10,000 to 15,000 year
When your error of margin is half again your lower-bound period, “regular” might be a bit strong of a term for that cycle.

I think the last statement would offer a valuable lesson in humility for those who would try to control climate
Humility is something in short supply among some scientists, particularly progressive ones.

Total CO2 emissions are estimated to be 100 million tonnes per day. The human component to this is estimated to be between 5% and 20% (probably dependent upon whose agenda is being pushed).

25-million tonnes per hour being equated to Estonia’s daily CO2 production is as wholesale lie.

I suggest we throw both the insufferable John Kerry and Greta Thunberg into the volcano as a sacrifice to reduce the emissions.

they have the capacity to disrupt and override all of our collective efforts aimed at controlling GHG concentrations

It’s almost as if the whole notion of attempting it is rank BS actually aimed at controlling people not GHG (not that I agree with the notion of CO2 being a pollutant in the first place).