Can we imagine a natural event capable to threaten the stability of the world’s economy, alter the climate as we know it, and even threaten the lives of millions of people? Volcanic super-eruptions, hundreds of times larger than volcanic eruptions witnessed by our interdependent human civilisation, are capable of such dangerous, widespread and diverse consequences. Despite their low probability of occurrence in relation to human life-span, super-eruptions increase in probability when transposed to the time-scales of civilizations.
The Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) erupted from the Phlegrean Fields on the Bay of Naples (Italy) 39,300 years ago, and it is considered the largest eruption of the Late Quaternary in Europe. Tephra ejected from the eruption blanketed over 3 million km2 from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Russian Plains. Recent studies indicate that the CI would have caused a volcanic winter, possibly lowering the temperature between 6-9 ºC in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It has been debated if the CI eruption, boosted by the coldest and driest Heinrich event, had an effect on the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition altering the survival of the remaining Neanderthals in Europe.