200 Years After Tambora, Indonesia Most at Risk of Deadly Volcanic Blast

Two hundred years after the biggest volcanic blast in recorded history, scientists have ranked the countries most at risk of a deadly volcanic eruption. Today (April 10) marks the 200th anniversary of the 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia. The enormous explosion changed global climate, causing a “year without a summer” in the Northern Hemisphere. Sulfur dioxide from Mount Tambora lingered in the atmosphere for several years, cooling the planet and triggering crop failures, famine and human disease pandemics in North America, Europe and Asia. “People were eating cats and rats,” said Stephen Self, a volcanologist at the University of California, Berkeley and an expert on the Tambora eruption. There is a 30 percent chance of another Tambora-size eruption striking this century, according to a new global volcanic hazard report prepared for the United Nations. An international team of experts, known as the Global Volcano Model Network, culled reports of the death and destruction wrought by volcanoes and ranked the countries most likely to face such future disasters. The report, called “Global Volcanic Hazards and Risk,” will be published in May by Cambridge University Press. Indonesia remains the country most at risk of another deadly volcanic eruption, according to the new report. To create the rankings, the scientists considered how often volcanoes within a country have erupted in the past 10,000 years and their different hazards. For example, ice-covered volcanoes can unleash fast-flowing mudflows called lahars. One of the most lethal volcanic events in the past 400 years was a lahar that raced down Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano in 1985, killing more than 23,000 people. FULL REPORT