The Volcanic Explosiveness Index (VEI) was created by scientists in 1982 to give a relative sense of the explosive power of volcanic eruptions. It has 9 levels, running from zero at the mildest to 8. Considering that “catastrophic” is the descriptor for level 3, you can just imagine the literally earth shattering power of an 8.
It is theorized that the Level 8 eruption known as “The Toba Event” brought about a 6-10 year volcanic winter, kicked off a 1,000-year glacial period and came close to wiping humanity from the face of the earth.
It had at least 100 times the eruptive mass of any eruption in recent memory. Actually, Toba had four major volcanic eruptions, but the truly killer event took place approximately 70,000 years ago during a period when Homo Erectus disappeared. Genetic evidence suggests that, following this eruption, the human population on earth faced what’s called a “genetic bottleneck.” During this time, humanity was reduced to somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals.
Now, that is apocalyptic.
Bonus Trivia: Volcanoes create Volcano Bombs. This is a real thing and they really kill people. These are masses of molten rock ejected from volcanoes that (usually) harden before they hit the ground. The size of volcano bombs from a 1935 eruption in Japan reached nearly 20 feet in diameter!