These Facts Will Alter the Perception of Historical Timelines
These Facts Will Alter the Perception of Historical Timelines

These Facts Will Alter the Perception of Historical Timelines

Khalid Elhassan - September 2, 2019

These Facts Will Alter the Perception of Historical Timelines
Laki eruption. Research Gate

1. Laki’s Massive Death Toll (Part 2)

The death toll in Iceland from Laki was just the tip of the iceberg. Iceland remains sparsely populated, so the death of a quarter of its population did not make Laki history’s deadliest eruption. Beyond Iceland, the eruption led to a decline in temperatures in the northern hemisphere – winter temperatures in the US, for example, dropped 10 degrees Fahrenheit in 1783, and remained below normal for several years afterwards. However, Laki’s deadliest impact was not in the US or North America, either. The deadly impact was in Europe and the northern hemisphere, to the southeast of Iceland.


The summer of 1783 had been a particularly hot one. A rare high pressure zone formed over Iceland that year; winds blew to the southeast. When Laki began spewing prodigious amounts of sulfuric dioxide into the sky, they were carried by the winds from Iceland. It created crop failures in Europe, draught in North Africa and India, and Japan’s worst famine. The eruption also caused an historic famine in Egypt, where a sixth of the population starved to death in 1784. It is estimated that the Laki eruption and its aftermath caused the deaths of an estimated six million people worldwide. This eruption making it the deadliest volcanic eruption in human history. It also illustrated low energy, large volume eruptions, can have a greater impact than single massive explosive eruptions. Especially if these eruptions occur over an extended period of time.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

American Battlefield Trust – The Death of John Sedgwick

Anthony, Dave, and Reynolds, Gareth – The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories From American History (2017)

Center for International Maritime Security – Circular Hulls: Dead Ends That Sound Awesome

Encyclopedia Britannica – Bill Mauldin, American Cartoonist

Encyclopedia Britannica – Al Hakim, Fatimid Caliph

Fox, Robin Lane – Alexander the Great (2004)

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (2002)

Ha’aretz, October 18th, 2016 – This Day in Jewish History, 1009: The ‘Mad Caliph’ Destroys Jewish, Christian Sites in Fatimid Empire

History Net – Cuxhaven Raid: Britain‘s Bold Strike From the Sea

IslamiCity – Khawarij: A History of Violence

Legends of America – Johnny Ringo

Mauldin, Bill – Up Front (1945)

Military Factory – Grumman F6F Hellcat

National Interest, February 4th, 2017 – Russia‘s IL-2 Sturmovik ‘Flying Tank’: No Plane Has Been Built in Bigger Numbers (and it Helped Crush Hitler)

New Yorker, March 24th, 1962 – The Stragglers: Oh What a Miserable Life This Is!

Prange, Gordon W., et al. – Miracle at Midway (1982)

Scientific American, June 8th, 2013 – June 8, 1783: How the ‘Laki Eruptions’ Changed History

Snyder, Brad – The House of Truth: A Washington Political Salon and the Foundations of American Liberalism (2017)

Spiegel, March 14th, 2005 – The Third Reich: How Close Was Hitler to the A-Bomb?

Summers, Harry G. – On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (1982)

Swords Swords – Xiphos Sword Analysis

Tank Encyclopedia – Comet Cruiser Tank A34

ThoughtCo – The Brooklyn Bridge Disaster

Wikipedia – John R. Brinkley

Wikipedia – Orion P. Howe