The Daily Mail - igneous ignorance and non-science nonsense

"Is a super-volcano just 390 miles from London about to erupt?" trembles a new article on the Daily Mail website.  I was unaware of any super-volcanoes in such close proximity to the offices of Paul Dacre's rabid mouth-piece, so was most intrigued, and gave it a read.

The piece, written by a chap called Ted Thornhill, names the dormant super-volcano as the Laacher See, not far from Koblenz, in Germany.  It is known to have erupted spectacularly about 13,000 years ago (Schmitt et al. 2010).

I assumed that Thornhill was publicizing some amazing or controversial new data showing the Laacher See was about to blow its top again.  The scale of the last eruption was certainly pretty enormous, so such findings would be very interesting.

The Laacher See

Instead, and to my almost complete non-shock given the organ publishing his work, Thornhill's piece is absolutely vacuous.  No new data whatsoever is cited; not even a single scientific study of the area's volcanic activity.  In classic newspaper-speak, Thornhill simply refers to 'experts' and 'volcanologists', without naming a single one.  Comparing his text on the Laacher See with that of a well-known free online encyclopaedia, it would seem Thornhill's expertise comes from those reliable sources, Mr Ian Ternet, and Dr Worldwi Dweb.

I don't want to get excessively annoyed by it, but it's maddening.  Yet again, a huge media organization is printing 'scientific' articles that are nothing of the sort.  Thornhill's piece is, quite simply, bollocks.  If you don't believe me, read the blog post on Wired by volcanologist Erik Klemetti.

So where does the story come from?  Did Thornhill just stumble across the Wikipedia entry, chew it up briefly, and then spit it out again?  Or is he being guided by mysterious forces we mortals don't know about?

FOOTNOTE - I wonder if this doom-laden website is in any way connected to the article?
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