Volcanic Eruption During the Pleistocene

Untapped power, deadly and beautiful

Untapped power, deadly and beautiful

If you read my last post, you experienced the power of volcanoes. Because Lyta and her kin had no understanding of these geologic forces during the Plio-Pleistocene, how long they would last, how they as primates could survive their daunting power, they might well have considered eruptions as the end of their world.

If they understood life and death…

If they had a concept of  ‘me’ (studies are varied on this concept).

Think about this:

Volcanic activity dominated Pliocene Africa. Earliest man, until Thinking Man arrived, had no written or oral history, and retained no concept of the impact these tectonic forces played in their lives. But the rocks and the soil remembered and wrote the history into the land itself. It described the absolute dominance of Nature over all creatures, and man’s steps to mitigate this control.

Although frequent volcanic eruptions shook this unique African triple junction rift, one particular flare-up (the one Otto showed me which tore Lyta from her child and lover) ranked as the most violent in hundreds of thousands of years. Gelatinous rock found in the mantle was heated to temperatures in excess of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit and rushed up the volcano’s pipe at the speed of a freight train. It broke through Earth’s crust (a weak layer of sand and crushed rock and feldspar about five miles thick) and exploded with the force of ten thousand atomic bombs, blowing the top off the mountain and leaving behind the largest caldera in the world atop the tallest volcano of the Pliocene. The smoke, ash, and tephra shot forty miles through the troposphere, surpassing the level of the clouds. volcanoxsec

The volcanic debris migrated on the high-speed stratospheric winds around the world three times. It passed over the ancient North American landscape, crossed the sunken land bridge to Asia, and moved on to what would be called Europe, greeted only by confused mammals. It returned to the African continent where the earliest of the genus Homo pondered the disappearance of Sun, and Cousin Chimp wondered why evening came so early.

And it started its circumnavigation again. A residual band of volcanic particles encircled Earth for months afterward and lowered the mean temperature one degree Centigrade. The sun reappeared to a fiery red sunset complemented by an unusual blue moon, an atmospheric reaction to the abnormal amount of sulfuric particles suspended in the troposphere. It would be several years before Earth’s substratosphere recovered.

The sound emitted from the explosion ranked as the greatest ever picked up by a hominid ear. So loud, it caused Boah (an Australopithecine) to cover his ears with his furred hands, and forced the sabertooth cat to fling his head side to side as he tried to rid itself of the abysmal din. The resultant tsunamis rose as high as today’s tallest skyscrapers and sped along at a speed in excess of the fastest cheetah. They crashed into the East African coastline, as well as the beaches of what would be India.

Two million years ago, one of the modern world’s greatest rifts could be characterized as a common geologic gorge, without the breadth and depth for which it is now famous. It responded to the constant destructive pressure of buried hotspots, fed by the frequent volcanic eruptions and bigger-than-life earthquakes, until it became hundreds of feet wide and high by Lyta’s time. What would become known as the Great Rift Valley changed from a simple fracture in the landscape to a geographic formation that transformed the adaptive radiation of man.

Such was Nature’s strangle-hold on life during these times.

Thanks to Otto, I’m able to share with you how Lyta’s life changed due to Nature’s dominance.

These are things I think about. Am I boring? I’m a single mom, thirty something, and I obsess over volcanoes. Thank God for dogs…


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Today’s Author and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and monthly contributor to Today’s Author. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, creator of technology training books for middle school and ebooks on technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

0 Responses to “Volcanic Eruption During the Pleistocene”

  1. Leave a Comment

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

Read Sizzling Science on Kindle


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 234 other followers

Share This

Bookmark and Share



Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography

Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.19 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.24 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.20 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.02 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.15 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.98 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
California Yellow Pages
blogarama - the blog directory
Free Blog Directory
wordpress stats
blog search directory
Science Blogs

Vote for Me

%d bloggers like this: