Volcanoes for Dummies or MGGA (Make Geology Great Again)

Volcanoes for Dummies: Huaynaputina

So how would one make a connection between Peru, a volcano, human sacrifice, Russia, 125 000 dead AND opera?

Imagine you are a Navarro who, like his father and grandfather, worshipped Supay, demonic god of Death, Lord of Ukhu Pacha, an underworld lurking at the bottom of the hungry volcano’s crater into which you have been throwing humans, animals and even clothes and household utilities to appease the Dark God’s eternal hunger pangs?

Mt Huaynaputina, Peru
Mt Huaynaputina

Now, imagine that everything has changed for you. You have been conquered and subdued, and a Catholic priest explained to you that since Supay is no god but rather the good old Devil, your favourite activity – human sacrifice is going to become history.
You grumpily agree to forgo this sweet tradition in the name of the new Light promised to you but, from time to time, you look back at the mountain and can’t help but wonder: What if the white fellow is actually lying, and Supay is no Devil (or whatever you call it), what if Supay….is real?

Supay, a fierce deity indeed.

And one day your worst nightmare comes true. Powerful rumbling comes from the belly of the beast, the ever-hungry crater fumes with smoke and rage. In mere minutes, torrents of ash and tephra rash down the slopes of the furious deity destroying you and everyone you know but, in the meantime, creating one of the most famous operas. The pyroclastic flow is white-hot, so hot that even your tooth enamel melts away.

You and your little town are not the only victims – thousands of miles to the north, in Russia, great famine breaks out. Thousands of people die from starvation leaving shocking mass graves – silent reminders of the alien god’s divine wrath.
Angry people take it to the streets – dissatisfaction with the usurper Boris Godunov has been brooding for quite a while. Boris is deposed and the time of great unrest becomes one of the brightest episodes in Russian history.

Ferruccio Furlanetto as Boris Godunov, Teatro Massimo

Who knows, if not for Huaynaputina, would bandit Khlopok Kosolap take advantage of The Time of Troubles and drown country in blood? And if Modest Mussorgsky wasn’t influenced by these dramatic events, would he have created his brightest masterpiece ?

Wild Rusich doesn’t think so…


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