Supervolcano

A supervolcano is a large volcano that has had an eruption of magnitude 8, which is the largest value on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). This means the volume of deposits for that eruption is greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles).[1]

Supervolcanoes occur when magma in the mantle rises into the crust but is unable to break through it and pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure. This can occur at hotspots (for example, Yellowstone Caldera) or at subduction zones (for example, Toba). Another setting for the eruption of very large amounts of volcanic material is in large igneous provinces, which can cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash, causing long-lasting climate change (such as the triggering of a small ice age), which can threaten species with extinction. The Oruanui eruption of New Zealand's Taupo Volcano (about 26,500 years ago)[2] was the world's most recent super eruption at a VEI-8 eruption.

Supervolcano World Map
Map of known supervolcanoes around the world:

Terminology

The origin of the term "supervolcano" is linked to an early 20th-century scientific debate about the geological history and features of the Three Sisters volcanic region of Oregon in the United States. In 1925, Edwin T. Hodge suggested that a very large volcano, which he named Mount Multnomah, had existed in that region. He believed that several peaks in the Three Sisters area are the remnants of Mount Multnomah after it had been largely destroyed by violent volcanic explosions, similar to Mount Mazama.[3] In 1948, the possible existence of Mount Multnomah was ignored by volcanologist Howel Williams in his book The Ancient Volcanoes of Oregon. The book was reviewed in 1949 by another volcanologist, F. M. Byers Jr.[4] In the review, Byers refers to Mount Multnomah as a supervolcano.[5] Subsequent research proved that each peak of the Three Sisters was formed independently, and that Mount Multnomah did not exist.

More than fifty years after Williams' book was published, the term supervolcano was popularised by the BBC popular science television program Horizon in 2000, to refer to eruptions that produce extremely large amounts of ejecta.[6][7]

The term megacaldera is sometimes used for caldera supervolcanoes, such as the Blake River Megacaldera Complex in the Abitibi greenstone belt of Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Eruptions that rate VEI 8 are termed "super eruptions".[8] Though there is no well-defined minimum explosive size for a "supervolcano", there are at least two types of volcanic eruptions that have been identified as supervolcanoes: large igneous provinces and massive eruptions.[9]

Large igneous provinces

Large igneous provinces, such as Iceland, the Siberian Traps, Deccan Traps, and the Ontong Java Plateau, are extensive regions of basalts on a continental scale resulting from flood basalt eruptions. When created, these regions often occupy several thousand square kilometres and have volumes on the order of millions of cubic kilometers. In most cases, the lavas are normally laid down over several million years. They release large amounts of gases.

The Réunion hotspot produced the Deccan Traps about 66 million years ago, coincident with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The scientific consensus is that a meteor impact was the cause of the extinction event, but the volcanic activity may have caused environmental stresses on extant species up to the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary.[10] Additionally, the largest flood basalt event (the Siberian Traps) occurred around 250 million years ago and was coincident with the largest mass extinction in history, the Permian–Triassic extinction event, although it is unknown whether it was solely responsible for the extinction event.

Such outpourings are not explosive, though lava fountains may occur. Many volcanologists consider that Iceland may be a large igneous province that is currently being formed. The last major outpouring occurred in 1783–84 from the Laki fissure which is approximately 40 km (25 mi) long. An estimated 14 km3 (3.4 cu mi) of basaltic lava was poured out during the eruption.

The Ontong Java Plateau has an area of about 2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi), and the province was at least 50% larger before the Manihiki and Hikurangi Plateaus broke away.

Massive explosive eruptions

HotspotsSRP update2013
Location of Yellowstone hotspot over time (numbers indicate millions of years before the present).

Volcanic eruptions are classified using the Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI. It is a logarithmic scale, which means that an increase of one in VEI number is equivalent to a tenfold increase in volume of erupted material. VEI 7 or VEI 8 eruptions are so powerful that they often form circular calderas rather than cones because the downward withdrawal of magma causes the overlying rock mass to collapse into the empty magma chamber beneath it.

Toba overview
Satellite image of Lake Toba, the site of a VEI 8 eruption c. 75,000 years ago.

Known super eruptions

Long Valley Caldera cross section
Cross-section through Long Valley Caldera.

VEI 8

Based on incomplete statistics, at least 60 VEI 8 eruptions have been identified.[9][22]

VEI 7

VEI 7 eruptions, less colossal but still massive, have occurred in historical times. Four VEI 7 eruptions have occurred within the past 2000 years: Taupo Volcano's Hatepe eruption c. 232,[23] the 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain,[24] the eruption of Mount Samalas in 1257,[25] and the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora.[26]

* means DRE (dense rock equivalent).

Media portrayal

  • Nova featured an episode "Mystery of the Megavolcano" in September 2006 examining such eruptions in the last 100,000 years.[47]
San Salvador From Space

Satellite image of San Salvador, El Salvador and the Lake Ilopango caldera (also known as the Dark Age volcano) in the Valley of the Hammocks, site of a VEI 6–8 eruption and said to be ground zero for the extreme weather events of 535–536, when a dark veil settled on the world.

Taupo.Volcanic.Zone.North.Island.NZ

Volcano, lake, and caldera locations in the Taupo Volcanic Zone

See also

References

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  40. ^ Shipley, Niccole; Bindeman, Ilya; Leonov, Vladimir (18–21 October 2009). "Petrologic and Isotopic Investigation of Rhyolites from Karymshina Caldera, the Largest "Super"caldera in Kamchatka, Russia". Portland GSA Annual Meeting. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011.
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  42. ^ Ort, M. H.; de Silva, S.; Jiminez, N.; Salisbury, M.; Jicha, B. R. and Singer, B. S. Two new supereruptions in the Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex of the Central Andes Archived 20 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Portland GSA Annual Meeting, 18–21 October 2009
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Further reading

  • Mason, Ben G.; Pyle, David M.; Oppenheimer, Clive (2004). "The size and frequency of the largest explosive eruptions on Earth". Bulletin of Volcanology. 66 (8): 735–748. Bibcode:2004BVol...66..735M. doi:10.1007/s00445-004-0355-9.
  • Oppenheimer, C. (2011). Eruptions that shook the world. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64112-8.
  • Timmreck, C.; Graf, H.-F. (2006). "The initial dispersal and radiative forcing of a Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude super volcano: a model study". Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 6: 35–49. doi:10.5194/acp-6-35-2006.

External links

Advance and Retreat

Advance and Retreat is the third and final novel in The War Between the Provinces series, a fantasy version of the American Civil War by Harry Turtledove.

Barisan Mountains

The Bukit Barisan or the Barisan Mountains are a mountain range on the western side of Sumatra, Indonesia, covering nearly 1,700 km (1,050 mi) from the north to the south of the island. The Bukit Barisan range consists primarily of volcanoes shrouded in dense jungle cover, including Sumatran tropical pine forests on the higher slopes. The highest peak of the range is Mount Kerinci at 3,800 metres (12,467 ft). The Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is situated towards the southern end of the range.

The name Bukit Barisan actually means "row of hills" or "hills that make a row" in Malay, for the range stretches end to end along the island of Sumatra.

There are 35 active volcanoes in Bukit Barisan. The largest volcano is the supervolcano Toba within the 100 km (62 miles) × 30 km (19 miles) Lake Toba, which was created after a caldera collapse (est. in 74,000 Before Present). The eruption is estimated to have been at level eight on the VEI scale, the largest possible for a volcanic eruption.

Blake River Megacaldera Complex

The Blake River Megacaldera Complex is a giant subaqueous caldera cluster or a nested caldera system that spans across the Ontario-Quebec border in Canada.

The caldera complex is around 2.7 billion years old, consisting of a series of overlapping calderas of various ages and sizes. It lies within the southern zone of the Abitibi greenstone belt of the Superior craton and has an area of 3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi).

The Blake River Megacaldera Complex has been a centre of major interest since 2006 with numerous excursions at the international, national and local level. It is a world-class metallotect with respect to both hydrothermal Cu-Zn massive sulfides and gold-rich massive sulfides.

Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera

The Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera (sometimes called a supervolcano) is located in present-day southwest Idaho. The volcano erupted during the Miocene, between ten and twelve million years ago, spreading a thick blanket of ash in the Bruneau-Jarbidge event and forming a caldera. Animals were suffocated and burned in pyroclastic flows within a hundred miles of the event, and died of slow suffocation and starvation much farther away, notably at Ashfall Fossil Beds, located 1,000 miles downwind in northeastern Nebraska, where up to two meters of ash were deposited. At the time, the caldera was above the Yellowstone hotspot.

By its uniquely characteristic chemical composition and the distinctive size and shape of its crystals and glass shards, the volcano stood out among dozens of prominent ashfall horizons laid down in the Cretaceous, Paleogene, and Neogene periods of central North America. The event responsible for this fall of volcanic ash was identified at Bruneau-Jarbidge, 1,600 kilometers west in Idaho. Prevailing westerlies deposited distal ashfall over a vast area of the Great Plains.

The evolving composition of the erupted material indicates that while it is derived in large part from molten material from the middle or upper crust, it also incorporated a young basaltic component.

Eden Patera

Eden Patera is a feature located in the Mare Acidalium quadrangle on the planet Mars. In October 2013 the feature gained some attention when it was speculated it may be a supervolcano rather than an impact crater, according to research from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, led by Joseph R. Michalski. The research postulated the crater was formed by the volcano's caldera collapsing, rather than from an impact. Some of reasons for suspecting that Eden Patera is a collapsed caldera not an impact crater are its irregular shape, an apparent lack of a raised rim or central peak, and lack of impact ejecta.

Harry Turtledove

Harry Norman Turtledove (born June 14, 1949) is an American novelist, best known for his work in the genres of alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Lake Toba

Lake Toba (Indonesian: Danau Toba) is a large natural lake in Indonesia occupying the caldera of a supervolcano. The lake is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) long, 30 kilometres (19 mi) wide, and up to 505 metres (1,657 ft) deep. Located in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with a surface elevation of about 900 metres (2,953 ft), the lake stretches from 2.88°N 98.52°E / 2.88; 98.52 to 2.35°N 99.1°E / 2.35; 99.1. It is the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world.Lake Toba is the site of a massive supervolcanic eruption estimated at VEI 8 that occurred 69,000 to 77,000 years ago, representing a climate-changing event. Recent advances in dating methods suggest a more accurate identification of 74,000 years ago as the date. It is the largest-known explosive eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years. According to the Toba catastrophe theory, it had global consequences for human populations; it killed most humans living at that time and is believed to have created a population bottleneck in central east Africa and India, which affects the genetic make-up of the human worldwide population to the present.It has been accepted that the eruption of Toba led to a volcanic winter with a worldwide decrease in temperature between 3 to 5 °C (5.4 to 9.0 °F), and up to 15 °C (27 °F) in higher latitudes. Additional studies in Lake Malawi in East Africa show significant amounts of ash being deposited from the Toba eruptions, even at that great distance, but little indication of a significant climatic effect in East Africa.On 18 June 2018, Lake Toba was the scene of a ferry disaster, in which over 190 people drowned.

Michael Riley

Michael Riley (born February 4, 1962) is a Canadian actor. From 1998 to 2000, he portrayed Brett Parker in Power Play. He has acted in over 40 films and television series, including This Is Wonderland, for which he received a Gemini Award, and the Emmy-nominated BBC / Discovery Channel co-production Supervolcano. He also portrays a leading character in the 2009 CBC Television series Being Erica.

Riley was born in London, Ontario, and graduated from the National Theatre School in Montreal, Quebec in 1984. Riley's first screen appearance was in the film No Man's Land (1987).

As a stage actor, he received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for his performance as Arkady in George F. Walker's Nothing Sacred in 1988.

He has voiced the animated title character of Ace Lightning.

Rulers of the Darkness

Rulers of the Darkness (2002) is the fourth book in The Darkness Series by Harry Turtledove.

Samosir

For the Regency named Samosir, see Samosir Regency.

Samosir, or Samosir Island, is a large volcanic island in Lake Toba, located in the north of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Administratively, Samosir Island is governed as six of the nine districts within Samosir Regency. The lake and island were formed after the eruption of a supervolcano some 75,000 years ago. The island was originally a peninsula connected to the surrounding caldera wall by a small isthmus, which was cut through by the Tano Ponggol Canal in 1907 to aid navigation.

At 630 square kilometres (243 sq mi), Samosir is the largest island within an island, and the fifth largest lake island in the world. It also contains two smaller lakes, Lake Sidihoni and Lake Aek Natonang. Across the lake on the east from the island lies Uluan Peninsula. The island is linked to the mainland of Sumatra on its western part by a narrow isthmus connecting the town of Pangururan on Samosir and Tele on mainland Sumatra. Tele consequently offers one of the best views of Lake Toba and Samosir Island.

Silver Creek (Arizona)

Silver Creek is a 45-mile-long (72 km) stream located in the White Mountains of Arizona north of Show Low. It is a tributary of the Little Colorado River. It is also the site of a supervolcano that erupted 18.8 million years ago.

Superstorm (film)

Superstorm is a three-part British docudrama miniseries written and directed by Julian Simpson, about a group of scientists that try to divert and weaken hurricanes using cloud seeding.

Superstorm originally aired on BBC One for a period of three weeks, totaling three 59 minute episodes, from 15 April 2007 (2007-04-15) to 29 April 2007 (2007-04-29). Each episode was followed by a half-hour documentary on BBC Two on extreme weather monitoring and forecasting, called The Science of Superstorms. The series was also aired (after being edited for content) on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. and Canada during the summer of 2007.Superstorm is a co-production of BBC Worldwide, Discovery Channel and ProSieben, in association with M6 and NHK. Ailsa Orr and Michael Mosley, who made also Supervolcano, are the executive producers for BBC, while Jack E. Smith is the executive producer for the Discovery Channel.The miniseries was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 2 July 2007.

Supervolcano (disambiguation)

A supervolcano is a type of volcano.

Supervolcano may also refer to:

Supervolcano (film), a 2005 television disaster film

Supervolcano, a series of novels by Harry Turtledove

Supervolcano (film)

Supervolcano is a 2005 British-Canadian disaster television film that originally aired on 13 March 2005 on BBC One, and released by the BBC on 10 April 2005 on the Discovery Channel. It is centered on the speculated and potential eruption of the volcanic caldera of Yellowstone National Park. Its tagline is "Scientists know it as the deadliest volcano on Earth. You know it...as Yellowstone."

The Green Beret’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse

The Green Beret’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse is an upcoming American television comedy anthology series created by and starring Shawn Vance and Daril Fannin. The six-episode scripted anthology series will be released on Netflix. Episodes include multiple world-ending scenarios including nuclear war, a pandemic, and a supervolcano.

Toba catastrophe theory

The Toba supereruption was a supervolcanic eruption that occurred about 75,000 years ago at the site of present-day Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the Earth's largest known eruptions. The Toba catastrophe theory holds that this event caused a global volcanic winter of six to ten years and possibly a 1,000-year-long cooling episode.

In 1993, science journalist Ann Gibbons posited that a population bottleneck occurred in human evolution about 70,000 years ago, and she suggested that this was caused by the eruption. Geologist Michael R. Rampino of New York University and volcanologist Stephen Self of the University of Hawaii at Manoa support her suggestion. In 1998, the bottleneck theory was further developed by anthropologist Stanley H. Ambrose of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Both the link and global winter theories are highly controversial.

The Toba event is the most closely studied supereruption.

Tweed Volcano

Tweed Volcano is a partially eroded Early Miocene shield volcano located in northeastern New South Wales, which formed when this region of Australia passed over the East Australia hotspot around 23 million years ago. Mount Warning, Lamington Plateau and the Border Ranges between New South Wales and Queensland are among the remnants of this volcano that was originally over 100 kilometres (62 mi) in diameter and nearly twice the height of Mount Warning today, at 1,156 metres (3,793 ft). Despite its size, Tweed Volcano was not a supervolcano; other shield volcanoes - such as on Hawaii - are much larger. In the 23 million years since the volcano was active, erosion has been extensive, forming a large erosion caldera around the volcanic plug of Mount Warning. Its erosion caldera is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Whakamaru

Whakamaru is a village in the central region of the North Island of New Zealand. The Maori words 'whaka' and 'maru' literally mean to give shelter to, or safeguard.The town was originally established as accommodation for the Whakamaru Power Station in New Zealand.

The Whakamaru switching station, adjacent to the power station, is operated by Transpower, and is an important node on the national grid.

During the summer months Lake Whakamaru is used extensively for water skiing. The Whakamaru Water Ski Club is very busy during the Christmas holidays, although water skiing courses are normally available all year round.

Kiwiburn, the New Zealand Burning Man regional, was held annually at the Whakamaru Domain, State Highway 30, from 2007 to 2013.

The town has a resident association, grocery store, cafe, pizza restaurant, and petrol station. Guided walks on available for the nearby Mt Titiraupenga.

The Whakamaru supervolcano eruption is the largest known eruption from the area known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ).

Yellowstone Caldera

The Yellowstone Caldera is a volcanic caldera and supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park in the Western United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera and most of the park are located in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km).The caldera formed during the last of three supereruptions over the past 2.1 million years: the Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago (which created the Island Park Caldera and the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff); the Mesa Falls eruption 1.3 million years ago (which created the Henry's Fork Caldera and the Mesa Falls Tuff); and the Lava Creek eruption approximately 630,000 years ago (which created the Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff).

VEI 8 eruptions have happened in the following locations.
Name Zone Location Notes Years ago (approx.) Ejecta bulk volume (approx.) Reference
La Garita Caldera San Juan volcanic field Colorado, United States Fish Canyon eruption 27,800,000 5,000 km3
Lake Toba Lake Toba, North Sumatra Sumatra, Indonesia Produced 2200–4400 million tons of H2SO4 74,000 2,800 km3 [11][12][13][14][15]
Huckleberry Ridge eruption Yellowstone hotspot Idaho, United States Huckleberry Ridge Tuff 2,100,000 2,500 km3 [16]
Atana Ignimbrite Pacana Caldera Antofagasta, Chile Part of the Altiplano–Puna volcanic complex 4,000,000 2,500 km3 [17]
Taupo Nui a tia Taupo Volcanic Zone North Island, New Zealand Whakamaru Ignimbrite/Mount Curl Tephra 340,000 2,000 km3 [18]
Heise Volcanic Field Yellowstone hotspot Idaho, United States Kilgore Tuff 4,500,000 1,800 km3 [19]
Heise Volcanic Field Yellowstone hotspot Idaho, United States Blacktail Tuff 6,000,000 1,500 km3 [19]
Cerro Guacha Altiplano-Puna volcanic complex Sur Lípez, Bolivia Guacha ignimbrite, two smaller eruptions identified 5,700,000 1,300 km3 [20]
Mangakino Caldera Taupo Volcanic Zone North Island, New Zealand Kidnappers eruption 1,080,000 1,200 km3 [21]
Oruanui eruption Taupo Volcanic Zone North Island, New Zealand Taupo Volcano (Lake Taupo) 26,500 1,170 km3
Cerro Galán Andes Central Volcanic Zone Catamarca, Argentina 2,500,000 1,050 km3
Lava Creek eruption Yellowstone hotspot Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, United States Lava Creek Tuff 640,000 1,000 km3 [16]
VEI 7 eruptions have happened in the following locations.
Name Zone Location Event / notes Years ago before 1950 (Approx.) Ejecta volume (Approx.)
Mount Tambora Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara Indonesia This eruption took place in 1815. 1816 became known as the Year Without a Summer. 135 120 km3
Mount Samalas Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara Indonesia 1257 Samalas eruption. Possible trigger of the Little Ice Age. 693 130 km3
Baekdu Mountain Control by Baikal Rift Zone China/North Korea One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the past 2,000 years. 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain (Millennium Eruption). 1,004 100–120 km3
Taupo Volcano (Lake Taupo) Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island Hatepe eruption AD 232 1,718 120 km3
[23]
Thera (Santorini caldera) South Aegean Volcanic Arc Greece, Santorini Minoan eruption BC 1,641 (±12) 3,591 100 km3
[27]
Kikai Caldera Japan, Ryukyu Islands Akahoya eruption 5,300 BC 7,300[28] 170 km3
Macauley Island Kermadec Islands New Zealand Macauley Island 8,300 to 6,300 years ago 6,300 100 km3
[29][30]
Mount Mazama (Crater Lake) Cascade Volcanic Arc U.S., Oregon Partially responsible for the formation of Crater Lake. 6,578 100 km3
[31]
Kurile Lake Kamchatka Peninsula Russia Kurile Lake
6,440 BC
10,500 140–170 km3
[32]
Aira Caldera Japan, Kyūshū Aira-Tanzawa ash 30,000[28] 450 km3
Campanian Ignimbrite eruption Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) Italy, Naples 39,280 300 km3*
Rotoiti Ignimbrite Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island Rotoiti Ignimbrite 50,000 240 km3
[33]
Lake Maninjau Lake Maninjau, West Sumatra Indonesia 52,000 220–250 km³
Aso Caldera Japan, Kyūshū Aso-4 pyroclastic flow 90,000 600 km3
Reporoa Caldera Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island 230,000 100 km3
[34]
Mamaku Ignimbrite Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island Rotorua Caldera 240,000 280 km3
[35]
Matahina Ignimbrite Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island Haroharo Caldera 280,000 120 km3
[36]
Mount Aso Japan, Kyūshū Four large eruptions between 300,000 and 80,000 years ago. 300,000 600 km3
Long Valley Caldera Bishop Tuff U.S., California 760,000 600 km3
Mangakino Taupo Volcanic Zone New Zealand, North Island Three eruptions from 0.97 to 1.23 million years ago 970,000 300 km3
[37]
Valles Caldera Jemez volcanic field U.S., New Mexico Two eruptions at 1.25 and 1.61 million years ago 1,250,000
[38]
600 km3
[39]
Henry's Fork Caldera Yellowstone hotspot
Mesa Falls Tuff
U.S., Idaho Yellowstone hotspot 1,300,000 280 km3
[16]
Karymshina Kamchatka Russia 1,780,000
[40]
825 km3
[41]
Pastos Grandes Ignimbrite Pastos Grandes Caldera Bolivia 2,900,000 820 km3
[42]
Heise Volcanic Field Yellowstone hotspot
Walcott Tuff
U.S., Idaho Yellowstone hotspot 6,400,000 750 km3
[19]
Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera Yellowstone hotspot U.S., Idaho Yellowstone hotspot
Responsible for the Ashfall Fossil Beds 1,600 km to the east[43]
11,830,000
[44]
950 km3
[45]
Cerro Panizos Altiplano-Puna volcanic complex Argentina, Bolivia 12,000,000 250 km3
Bennett Lake Volcanic Complex Skukum Group Canada, British Columbia/Yukon 50,000,000 850 km3
[46]
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