In 1883, an Indonesian volcano named Krakatoa, or Krakatau, erupted. In August of that year, the volcano exploded with such fury that 70% of the island collapsed into the caldera. The explosion was so violent that people heard it thousands of miles away. On January 15, 2022, Tonga’s Hunga volcano exploded. That island nation was devastated, and people heard the booms in Alaska, 6,200 miles (almost 10,000 km) away. Events such as those remind us that Earth is a complex living planet.
On January 14, 2022, the Hunga volcano erupted, apparently sinking the volcano’s main vent below sea level. That set up conditions for the volcano to explode the next day. Because of the capabilities of modern science, a team of 76 scientists in 17 nations studied the atmospheric waves created by the explosion, concluding that they were the strongest since the Krakatau explosion nearly 140 years ago. David Fee of the University of Alaska Fairbanks said, “Our hope is that we will be better able to monitor volcanic eruptions and tsunamis by understanding the atmospheric waves from this eruption.”
Earth is a complex living planet with massive forces at work, constantly changing its surface. The North American land mass is unusually stable, allowing us to build huge buildings and large cities, but much of the world is not that stable. In recent years, we have learned that the continents move, bringing to the surface new minerals and nutrients needed for life. In addition, in the ocean trenches, material is taken back into Earth’s core to be reworked and brought back to Earth’s crust.
The more we learn about our planet and the forces that have molded and shaped it to make life possible, the more apparent it becomes that life is extraordinary and the habitat that supports it is unique. Therefore, taking care of this beautiful creation of God is essential, and part of that is understanding that Earth is a complex living planet.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: National Science Foundation and the journal Science.