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With Yellowstone National Park showing signs of activity, what could we expect a super-volcano eruption to look like?

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Yellowstone National Park, one of the stars of the world-ending disaster movie ‘2012’, has experienced an unprecedented series of small earthquakes, 464 in fact, which has had many people worried about that it could lead to the super volcano to explode. Thankfully, scientists don’t believe that these small quakes are anything to worry about, noting they’ve happened in smaller swarms in previous years. But what exactly would happen should a super volcano the size of Yellowstone erupt?

Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone Mountains
Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone Mountains

If, for whatever unforeseen reason, Yellowstone decided to go against the current 1 in 730,000 odds of erupting, we could expect several major incidents. The first would be a major ash cloud that would spread over 500 miles, with the second being the lava pouring out of the massive crater that was once the National Park. A 4 inch layer of ash would fall from the giant cloud, with it covering the crops and fertile fields of the Midwest, wreaking havoc on production.

Volcanic ash spread; caused by eruption
Volcanic ash spread; caused by volcano eruption

Additionally, the gases released would lead to widespread acid rain and could cool the Earth as ash cloud blocks sun rays from penetrating the atmosphere, much like Krakatoa’s eruption in 1883. That last incident marked the last time a super volcano erupted, an event that was logged in the annals of time as one of the most destructive ever recorded.

Krakatoa, which was situated on an island off the Indonesian coast, created humongous tsunamis on top of the aforementioned massive ash cloud and associated effects during its eruption. The sheer force of the explosion led to it being heard over 3,000 miles away, and destroyed more than two-thirds of the island it rested upon. The shockwave was recorded on barographs around the world. It is estimated the eruption was responsible for the deaths of over 36,000 people, with some estimates going as high as 120,000.

An example of volcano explosion crater, yellowstone would be much bigger
An example of volcano explosion crater, Yellowstone could be much bigger…

This is likely the type of destructive power that you could expect from Yellowstone, which could help explain the uneasiness faced by many when abnormal events begin to surface around the National Park. Current estimates indicate that the destruction caused by a potential Yellowstone eruption could wipe out most of the Western half of the United States.

Not to worry though, as previously mentioned, scientists don’t expect the sleeping giant to awake within the next 730,000 years, but researchers and scientists are constantly monitoring the situation in Yellowstone to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary happens.

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One Thought to “With Yellowstone National Park showing signs of activity, what could we expect a super-volcano eruption to look like?”

  1. […] of 3,330 meters (10,926 feet), and despite being known to awaken several times a year, it hasn’t had a major eruption since […]

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