Seriously, if the super volcano that is Yellowstone National Park were to blow, then we’d all see some real deadly climate change.
Forget imaginary anthropogenic global warming, for the past two million years, this volcano has erupted roughly every 600,000 years. The last major eruption, which produced a caldera that stretches 80 kilometres by 50 kilometres across the park occurred 640,000 years ago. These blowouts occur on a regular basis, as steady as the blasts from Old Faithful geyser.
So we’re overdue. It’s not a matter of if that supervolcano will erupt, it’s a matter of when.
An eruption is inevitable, and geological evidence indicates that it will be soon.
Geologists have been collecting data going back to 1923. The land around Yellowstone has been steadily rising as pressure builds below, but starting in 2004, that bulging of the land has surged to three times the annual average, the highest ever recorded. The bottom of one end of Yellowstone Lake, which overlies the massive caldera, has risen enough to spill water out of the other end, killing trees. Other sections of the surrounding forest are dying because their roots systems are being cooked by the subterranean heat.
Numerous hot springs along trails have begun to boil, severely injuring some tourists, requiring some paths t be shut down. Elsewhere, new vents have been opening deeper in the parks, observed by passing airplanes, spewing steam and gouts of highly toxic vapours that have kill bison beast on the spot.
It’s a powder keg waiting to explode.
So what can we expect if she erupts? In a word – cataclysm.
First, it would be the loudest explosion heard by mankind in over seventy thousand years. Within minutes, a hundred thousand people would be buried by ash, incinerated by superheated pyroclastic flows, or killed by the explosive force alone. Magma would spew fifty kilometres into the air. The chamber would release a volume of lava large enough, if spread over the entire US, to cover the country to the depth of 15 centimetres (5 inches). But most of that flow would be confined to the Western states, wiping out the entire Northwest of America. For the rest of the country – and most likely the world – ash would be the real killer. Estimates (watch the two doco’s below) say it would cover two-thirds of North America in at least a metre of ash, rendering the land sterile and uninhabitable. But worst of all, the ash blown into the atmosphere would dim the sun and drop the earth’s temperature by twenty degrees celsius, triggering a volcanic winter that could last decades, it not centuries. Picture worldwide starvation, the chaos, the death.
And it’s happened before. Only seventy thousand years ago. A supervolcano erupted in Sumatra. The volcanic winter that followed in its wake wiped out most of the human population, dropping our numbers down to only a few thousand breeding pairs worldwide.
The worse thing however, is there is nothing we can do to stop it.