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( Article Type: Explanation )

This describes any major catastrophe that results in a major decline or drop in biodiversity or environmental quality. An ecocatastrophe can be both natural and man-made. An example of a natural eco-catastrophe could be a major volcanic eruption resulting in lava flows, ash, clouds of dust and smoke causing serious air, water and soil pollution, and the destruction of vegetation and farming land.

An example of a human-induced ecocatastrophe would be the loss of the Lapp reindeer herds in Lapland as a result of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, or the ecological destruction of the Alaskan coastline caused by the oil spill from the super-tanker, Exxon Valdez in 1989.

The volcanic eruption of Mount St Helens in the State of Washington, USA, was a natural eco-catastrophe, which resulted in the largest natural ash cloud of the 20th century, and the biggest landslide known to man, releasing an estimated 4.6 billion cubic metres of rock, almost a third of the mountain’s visible surface mass.