Mega-Colossal Explosions: Earth's Super Volcanic Eruptions
All the eruptions included on this list have a VEI of 8 or Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8. These eruptions are colossal events that throw out at least 1,000 km3 Dense Rock Equivalent (DRE) of ejecta. These eruptions are so powerful that they often form circular calderas rather than cones because the downward withdrawal of magma causes the overlying mass to collapse and fill the void magma chamber beneath.
Here are the known super eruptions in the world with VEI of 8.
1.) La Garita Caldera
La Garita Caldera’s super eruption in Colorado, USA is the greatest mega-colossal eruption of all. This enormous eruption of the Fish Canyon Tuff that created the Garita Caldera occurred 27.8 million years ago and created a 5,000 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta. The scale of La Garita volcanism was far beyond anything known in human history. The resulting deposit has a volume of about 5,000 km3, enough material to fill Lake Michigan. La Garita eruption’s was approximately 100,000 times more powerful than the most powerful human-made explosive device ever detonated, the Tsar Bomba that yielded 50 megatons.
2.) Lake Toba
The super eruption of Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia is one of the largest in the world. This mega-colossal eruption occurred 74,000 years ago with a 2,800 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta.
3.) Island Park Caldera
Island Park Caldera super eruption occurred at Huckleberry Ridge Tuff between Idaho and Wyoming, USA. This massive explosion occurred 2.1 million years ago with a 2,500 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta. This super eruption produced 2,500 times of ash as much as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.
4.) Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone in the center of North Island in New Zealand. The super eruption of this supervolcano that occurred 26,500 years ago is known as Oruanui Eruption. This eruption had a 1,170 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta.
5.) Yellowstone Supervolcano
The super eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano or Caldera created one of the largest on Earth. This volcanic eruption occurred in Lava Creek Tuff in Wyoming, US. It is estimated that this mega event occurred 640,000 years ago. Its Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta was 1,000 km³.
6.) Glen Coe
Glen Coe is a glen located in Scotland, UK. Its enormous explosion occurred 420 million years ago. The location of Glen Coe is often regarded as one of the most spectacular and beautiful places in Scotland.
Other known super eruptions with VEI of 8
7.) Pacana Caldera
Pacana Caldera is located in Chile. Its super eruption occurred 4 million years ago with a 2,500 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta.
8.) Heise Volcanic Field
Heise Volcanic Field is located in Kilgore Tuff, Idaho in the US. Its super explosion occurred 4.5 million years ago with Dense Rock Equivalent ejecta of 1,800 km³.
9.) Heise Volcanic Field
Heise Volcanic Field in Blacktail Tuff, Idaho, United States created one of the most enormous eruptions in the world approximately 6.6 million years ago with a 1,500 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta.
10.) Cerro Galan
Cerro Galan is located in Catamarca, Argentina. Its super explosion about 2.5 million years ago created a 1,050 km³ Dense Rock Equivalent of ejecta.
For comparison, Mount St. Helen eruption’s in 1980 was at the lower end of VEI-5 with 1.2 km3. Both Krakatoa in 1883 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991 eruptions’ were VEI-6 with 25 km3.