The Toba caldera in Indonesia is said to have undergone a massive volcanic eruption – of Category 8 – sometime between 70,000 and 75,000 years ago. The theory is that this event wiped out a large percentage of the human population, thereby changing the course of our evolution by causing the extinction of a diversity of other human species existing at the time. The phenomenon referred to as a “population bottleneck” would only occur in the event of a global catastrophe. The Tolba volcano is believed to erupt once every 300,000 to 400,000 years, so there is not expected to be a repeat of that eruption anywhere in the near future.
The Toba Eruption, or the Toba Event, was the most major volcanic event to have occurred in millions of years. It occurred at Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago. Volcanic activity is extremely variable and difficult to predict, and an event like that could certainly happen again, though not likely in the near future.
It’s a little strong to say that the Toba eruption was the most major volcanic event in millions of years. One of the three Yellowstone supervolcano eruptions (2 million, 1.2 million, and 0.6 million years ago) ejected a comparable amount of material. Eruptions at Taupo, New Zealand; and Pacana, Chile, were also comparable in volume. The eruption at La Garita, Colorado, was undoubtedly larger, but that one was about 28 million years ago.
Not suggesting Toba wasn’t a big deal – it definitely was. Just offering comparisons and perspective.
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