Posts Tagged ‘Supervolcano’

Active volcano Mount St. Helens shortly after ...

Today’s End-of-the-World scenario? Super volcanoes are massive and release several hundred times the energy of a nuclear bomb.

Regular volcanoes are devastating, people generally think of Mount Saint Helens or Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii. These are big and devastating events capable of wiping out everything hundreds of miles. But they are only the opening act.

Caldera volcanoes also known as super volcanoes are orders of magnitude worse. There are 3 known super volcanoes in the world. One is extinct, the others simply sleeping. Sumatra and Yellowstone (yes under the park) are sleeping giants waiting to unleash their deadly force and capable of ending life as we know it.

Volcanic Explosivity Index volume graph

Volcanic Explosivity Index volume graph (Image credit Wikipedia)

The last super volcano eruption nearly caused the extinction of the human race. Sumatra lies off the coast of Japan. When it erupted 73,000 years ago it released enough ash to cause darkness over the earth for days. With a VEI (Volcanic explosivity index) of 8 out of 8, it destroyed all life in its path. Primitive humans that survived were cut off and isolated.

Yellowstone caldera super volcano lies under Yellowstone national park. It’s energy drives the geysers and other geothermal phenomenon. It however is a ticking time bomb beneath out feet. Slightly larger than Sumatra it hasn’t erupted for more than 200,000 years. Recent ground swelling indicates that the magma chamber is growing quickly. Geologically it should be, we are over due by more than 64,000 years for an eruption.

English: A diagram of the Yellowstone Caldera

When it does erupt (and yes it’s a matter of when not if), it will blow hundreds of thousands of tons of ash into the atmosphere, pyro clastic flows will engulf the surrounding states. The energy released will vaporize anything with in a hundred mile radius, the lava will consume everything for easily 200 miles. The ash clouds however will cause the most damage. With 1-3 feet of ash falling inside a 400 mile radius and 2-8 inches of ash falling as far away as South Carolina. The dust particles will charge the atmosphere, blot out the sun for days, and alter weather across the globe. When the rains come (and they will come like no one alive has seen) all that ash and dust will basically turn into concrete, and don’t breathe the ash, the moisture in your lungs with cause the same effect, and it’s hard to breathe with your lungs full of cement. Don’t live in the US? Think you’ll be safe? Nope, the ash will make it to the upper atmosphere and ash will fall in Europe, Russia, Australia, etc. affecting the weather patters across the globe. No one will be safe from this sleeping giant.

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