Mystery of the Megavolcano
A Supersized Volcano
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A Supersized Volcano

Beginning in 1949, when Dutch geologist Rein van Bemmelen discovered massive deposits of volcanic rock along the perimeter of Lake Toba on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, scientists knew they were onto something big. The thousand-square-mile area around the lake, it appeared, was a gargantuan caldera once filled not with water but with steaming volcanic ash and pumice. As volcanologists pieced together evidence of the cataclysmic event that took place there 74,000 years ago, as well as two earlier eruptions, Toba seemed so immense it was deemed a "supervolcano." In this interactive, see a portrait of the eruption of 74,000 years ago and how it dwarfs even the most disastrous "regular-sized" eruptions of our own era.—Susan K. Lewis

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