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Sleeping giants a potent threat
Jason Wyatt, The Epoch Times
4/30/2005

While Indonesia is still recovering from two major quakes in three months, scientists warn that even greater challenges may await the region in future.

According to Professor Ray Cas of Monash University, the largest volcano in the world is situated at Lake Toba on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with a crater diameter of 90km.

These giant volcanoes, known as “caldera”, are possibly the greatest threat to the planet says Professor Cas, with the only greater threat being an asteroid impact. Some of these caldera are now overdue for an eruption, he warned on Friday.

Lake Toba lies on a fault line running down the middle of the island. Shifts along fault lines off the west coast of Sumatra are allegedly responsible for the December 26 tsunami and March 28 earthquake.

Professor Cas said Toba’s last eruption 73,000 years ago probably caused a dramatic change to the world’s climate. Eruptions can be so powerful that huge amounts of rock and ash could be thrown into the atmosphere.

“The eruption released 1000 cubic kilometres of ash and rock debris into the atmosphere, much of it as fine ash which blocked out solar radiation, kicking the world back into an ice age,” Professor Cas said "Despite the risk, governments were unprepared, he said.

“The big problem is a lot of the volcanoes that potentially could erupt are perhaps not monitored to the degree that they should be, and of course we learnt that lesson from the Boxing Day tsunami disaster,” Professor Cas said.

The last major eruption of a giant volcano was at Lake Taupo, New Zealand.

“It has a big eruption every 2000 years, and it last erupted about 2000 years ago,” Professor Cas said. Vulcanologists around the globe were waiting for one of the giants to erupt in future according to Professor Cas. “It could be in a few, 50 or another 1000 years, but sooner or later one is going to go off.”

Some information in this report was provided by AAP.

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