The eruption itself would have been particularly explosive, creating a huge ash column that would have suffocated the surrounding landscape. Later on, massive lava flows would have indeed scorched the earth.
Aboriginals have been roaming through parts of Australia for as many as 80,000 years. They were certainly living in Queensland when the Kinrara eruption took place, and the research team say that the story told by the elder seems to suggest that they were around to see it take place.
“These stories are plausible descriptions of a volcanic eruption – the Kinrara volcano has a very prominent crater, which produced volcanic ash and lava fountains,” lead author Dr Benjamin Cohen, of the University of Glasgow and SUERC, said in a statement.
“[This] adds to a growing list of geological events that appear to be recounted in Australian Aboriginal traditions, including sea level rise around 10,000 years ago and other volcanic eruptions elsewhere on the continent.”
It’s not difficult to see why such a story would survive for so long. After all, paintings of eruptions on cave walls have been found elsewhere in the world, dating back 36,000 years.
Aboriginal art in Queensland. Jason Benz Bennee/Shutterstock
Clearly, there are many ways to preserve a story through the erosive passage of time, whether you use art or literature, film or vocalized lore. All you need is a spectacular subject matter that will stick in people’s minds, and there’s little more awe-inspiring than a volcanic eruption.
Rather wonderfully, sometimes the roles are reversed, and human stories get preserved in the volcanic eruptions themselves.