Humans thrived in South Africa after catastrophic Toba eruption 74,000 years ago, study suggests

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Beach-side property might be a luxury today, but living by the seaside may have helped modern humans in
South Africa survive the biggest supervolcano eruption of the past 2.5 million years.
The Toba supervolcano, on what is now Sumatra,
Indonesia, spewed about 3,000 cubic kilometres of
ash, rock and glass in a cataclysmic eruption around
74,000 years ago.


Toba eruption shards are a handy signpost of time, according to Kira Westaway, a luminescence dating expert at
Macquarie University.
"They have a very distinct geochemical fingerprint," Dr Westaway, who was not involved in the research, said.
"If you can find it in your sediment, you have what's called a 'marker horizon' where you know it's 74,000 years."

Period23 Apr 2018

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleABC news
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media typeWeb
    PersonsKira Westaway