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What are supervolcanoes? © Getty Images

What are supervolcanoes?

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To be classified as a supervolcano it has to reach the highest value of the Volcanic Explosivity Index- but what does that mean?

Asked by: Eric Lee, London


These are volcanoes with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 that throw out more than 1000km cubed of material. By comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens released 2.8km cubed. The last known supervolcano eruption was in New Zealand, 26,500 years ago; the last but one, 75,000 years ago, wiped out 60 per cent of the global human population.


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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