This 1783 Volcanic Eruption Changed The Course Of History
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This 1783 Volcanic Eruption Changed The Course Of History
This 1783 Volcanic Eruption Changed The Course Of History

The sun fades away, the land sinks into the sea,
the bright stars disappear from the sky,
as smoke and fire destroy the world,
and the flames burn the sky.
- The end of the world according to the "Völuspa," a collection of Icelandic myths

Volcanoes are not an unusual sight on Iceland, but the eruption that began on June 8, 1783, in the southern district of Síða was something that had never seen before. During the next eight months, an estimated 14 km³ (about 3.7 quadrillion gallons, enough to fill 330 feet deep valleys entirely) of lava poured out from 135 fissures and volcanic craters near the town of Klaustur. The lava from the fissures ended up covering an estimated 2,500 km² (965 sq mi) of land, which threatened to overrun not only many farms but also the entire town. The newly formed chain of volcanoes was named later Laki.


From 1783 to 1785 accounts from both Japan and America describe terrible droughts, exceptional cold winters, and disastrous floods. In Europe, the exceptionally hot summer of 1783 was followed by long and harsh winters. The resulting crop failures may have triggered one of the most famous insurrections of starving people in history, the French Revolution of 1789-1799.

It's a sobering reminder that destructive changes to the environment can have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts, even from hundreds of miles away.


"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage."

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Carl Schurz

"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms."

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2017 Dec 30 02:29
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