5 Acts of Nature That Rearranged the Face of the Planet

#2. Paricutin

The worst thing an average person has to worry about growing out of his yard is the occasional mushroom garden or patch of stinging nettles. But in 1943 in Paricutin, Mexico, Dionisio Pulido saw his land open up and suddenly grow a volcano.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Well ... shoot.

Pulido, a farmer, was out plowing his field when a fissure opened up and started burping out ash and stone. After only a week, it was five stories tall. Within a year, it went from a gleam in a volcanic field's eye to a bouncing baby cinder cone 1,100 feet tall that forced the locals to move to nearby non-erupting land.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"I say we just let the volcano have the field, bro."

The volcano was spent by 1952, but not before increasing in violent volcanic activity, topping off the cone at 1,390 feet tall before calling it quits and going to sleep. It is the only volcano birth ever witnessed in recorded history, and it would probably have its own reality show if it happened now. Just try to imagine that you have a corn field behind your house, and a year later it looks like this:

Via Panoramio.com
"Dammit! My hat is under that thing." -Dionisio Pulido

#1. The Siberian Traps Reset Earth's Biological Clock

If 1980s movies are to be believed, Siberia is a frozen hellhole suitable only for bears, Russian prisoners and inept American spies. It's nothing but frozen tundra and despair until you get to Alaskan crab waters and reality TV crews. But it was once worse. Way, way worse. About 250 million years ago, Mother Earth experienced a truly epic case of irritable bowel syndrome under what is now Russia's frozen armpit.

Near what was to be the end of the Permian period, Earth was ruled by pre-dinosaur reptiles and giant freaking bugs before Siberia erupted. Not a volcano in Siberia; Siberia itself. Scientists believe a mantle plume, aka "hotter lava," rose up and hit Siberia and, in strictly scientific terms, blew it right the hell up. A piece of earth the size of western Europe exploded, possibly causing an event called the Great Dying.

It was a continent-sized game of "the floor is lava."

While the simple explosion of a continent was probably enough to screw up everything on its own, the Siberian traps had more tricks up their volatile sleeves. They were located next to large coal fields, causing the release of massive amounts of methane and carbon dioxide. This could have triggered a clathrate gun reaction, which in turn would have led to an anoxic event that would have poisoned everything that wasn't exploded or suffocated/baked by the previous two apocalypses that just happened. In other words, it was the perfect storm of "screw you, everything."

Ninety percent of all life on earth was wiped out, and land life took 30 million years to recover.

And eventually evolved into a perfect form.

The expanse of Siberia was "paved over" in basaltic lava, forming the traps, which get their name from the Swedish word for stairs. Here is what a continent-sized apocalypse looks like:

Via ThunderBolts.info

Holy God, it's ... OK, that's actually kinda neat looking.

Via Setterfield.org

But this, well this is just ... alright, that's awfully pretty.

Via ApologeticsRedux.org

OK, so apparently after a quarter of a billion years, even hell is kind of nice to look at.

Don't let the pretty pictures fool you -- the chain reaction started by the Siberian traps spent a million years murdering most of the life on Earth. And the best part? It could happen again.

David writes for Funnycrave, blogs at Death and Other Funny Stuff and is managing editor for Wordplague.

For more bizarre worldly changes, check out 5 Ancient Acts of War That Changed the Face of the Earth and 6 Tiny Things That Have Mind-Blowing Global Impacts.

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