NOVA follows a team of volcano sleuths as they embark on a worldwide hunt for an elusive volcanic mega-eruption that plunged the medieval earth into a deep freeze. The mystery begins when archaeologists find a hastily dug mass grave of 4,000 men, women, and children in London. At first they assume it's a plague pit from the Black Death, but when they date the bones, they're a century too early. So what killed off these families? The chronicles of that time describe a run of wild weather that devastated crops and spread famine across Europe. NOVA's expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which chilled the entire planet. From Greenland to Antarctica, the team finds telltale "fingerprints" in ice and soil layers until, finally, they narrow down the culprit to a smoldering crater on a remote Indonesian island. Nearly 750 years ago, this volcano's colossal explosion shot a million tons of rock and ash into the atmosphere. Across the globe, it turned summer into winter. What would happen if another such cataclysm struck again today?
As scientific studies confirm sea level changes throughout the globe, major coastal cities like Miami are now fighting back against these rising tides, before it's too late. Parts of Miami Beach are under serious threat, with major economic and social dangers looming large.
Science in Antarctica will shut down for the winter. Scott Base has plenty of logistics to manage in order to send teams out to finish their missions for the season. The USS Coast Guard crew is challenged by their aging ship as they try to finish cutting a channel in the ice before they escort the ship in. The Mt. Erebus team struggles to salvage as much data as they can before they go home.
This episode focuses on the Asia-Pacific side of The Pacific Rim of Fire, which stands as a living testament to the beauty and danger that powerful geologic forces can deliver. The Pacific Rim is home to half of the world's active volcanoes and ninety percent of the world's earthquakes, yet nearly 800 million people continue to live within its violent edge. Our journey begins in New Zealand, a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, where we find a 500-kilometre long slip-strike fault deep under the Pacific Ocean. Geologist Hamish Campbell will take us to the crater of White Island, the country’s most active volcano. Then we'll visit the country's southern island with John Youngson, to find out how New Zealand’s longest fault-line contributes to the gold industry. Finally in Japan, viewers will hike up to Mount Fuji – the iconic peak where science and legend converge, getting up-close and personal with a fault-line witnessing firsthand what it’s like to discover new ways of monitoring, and hopefully one day predicting, seismic activity onboard the world’s most advanced drilling vessels.
Volcanoes have a fearsome reputation. In reality, they are the most important force in the creation of the planet as we know it today. Iain abseils into a lava lake and cave dives in a cenote to show how the heat that fuels volcanoes also drives some of the most fundamental processes on the planet.