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Can anyone think of a reasonable man-made or natural disaster that would split a large volcanic island into smaller parts, mostly stone cliff faces, and destroy most of the vegetation?

I'd like to steer away from nuclear, because of the radiation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Emi, welcome to Worldbuilding. How about the explosion of the volcano, like what happened in Santorini (Wikipedia)? $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 7 '16 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ That's perfect. Any idea how long vegetation would take to recover? $\endgroup$ – Emi Mar 7 '16 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ vegetation has the ability to grow in the most improbable places, if there was vegetation before then it wont be long for it to be there again after $\endgroup$ – Erik vanDoren Mar 7 '16 at 14:08
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Why not go for one that already exists, like Maug island?

Maug

If you want to steer away from nukes, you pretty much have to wait for it to happen naturally. A big eruption of a volcanic island has a reasonable chance to blow the island apart, leaving just scattered islands. In the case of Surtsey, vegetation just used a few years to establish.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! It's rather convenient that I map I drew to make my story work turns out to be a legitimately possible thing. This time I am lucky, next time, I may research before writing! $\endgroup$ – Emi Mar 8 '16 at 13:39
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To turn that comment into an answer.

Your scenario reminds me of the explosion of the Greek island of Santorini.

Santorini is an island in the Egean Sea. In the 17th Century BCE, the Volcano erupted, which lead to the explosion of the island. This is what remains from the island afterward:

Island of Santorini today

The explosion brought the Minoan Civilisation down. The effects of the explosion were apparently noticed down in Egypt (several thousands of km South) and some indices point to the fact that it was noticed in China.

This destroyed most of the vegetation and housings on the island.

However there's nothing to prevent the vegetation from regrow afterward. In one to two years, many plants would be found, and in 5 to 10 years, it would be fully regrown. At least the natural part.

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