National Geographic's Guide To The Yellowstone Supervolcano

Tyler Durden's picture

Amid a growing 'swarm' of over earthquakes (now over 1000), and Montana's largest quake ever, scientists are growing increasingly concerned that the so-called 'super-volcano' at the heart of Yellowstone National Park could be building towards a Category 7 eruption. So what is a 'super-volcano' and what does its explosion mean for life on earth? NatGeo explains...

As National Geographic details...

Think of Yellowstone as a gigantic pressure cooker, fueled by a massive supervolcano. Water from rain and snowmelt, much of it centuries-old, percolates through cracks in the Earth’s crust until heated by molten rock reservoirs deep below. The water then filters upward, eventually finding release in the thousands of geysers, hot springs, and other hydrothermal wonders.

Eruptions of this supervolcano expel so much material that the crust caves in, creating a craterlike depression called a caldera.

Yellowstone is known as a supervolcano because of the violence and size of its explosions.

The plume of hot rock has been calculated at more than 600 miles deep. But scientists suspect it actually descends as far as 1,800 miles, all the way to what’s known as the Earth’s outer core-mantle boundary.

The reservoirs and plume are superheated, spongelike rock holding pockets of molten material called magma. The reservoirs’ heat, which originates in the plume, is what keeps the area’s geysers boiling.

Ancient rain and snowmelt seep down to just above the volcano’s magma reservoirs, until they are superheated and rise again through the fractures. Volcanic heat and gases help propel steam and water toward the surface, where they escape through hot springs or geysers.

Hot water rises from a deep reservoir into a teapot-shaped chamber. As water and gases fill the sealed space, pressure builds, preventing boiling. Some water spills into the spout, releasing pressure and allowing the water in the chamber to boil. Steam and water then blast up the spout.

Pressure builds behind a narrow constriction until steam shoots through. Some water splashes out, then jets of steam and water explode, rising on average 130 feet. As the chamber drains, pressure drops, and the process begins again.

  • Highest recorded eruption - 184ft
  • Eruptions per day on average - 17
  • Minutes length of eruption - 1.5 to 5

The park’s hydrothermal features cluster in basins at the margins of lava flows or near faults. Rivers and streams are heated as they pass through these basins. Heat and escaping gases are also evidence of the subterranean forces that lie below Yellowstone.

So how would a supervolcanic eruption at Yellowstone impact the regional ecosystem, and the US more broadly? Well, as The American Dream blog's Michael Snyder points out, it would be nothing short of catastrophic.

Hundreds of cubic miles of ash, rock and lava would be blasted into the atmosphere, and this would likely plunge much of the northern hemisphere into several days of complete darkness. Virtually everything within 100 miles of Yellowstone would be immediately killed, but a much more cruel fate would befall those living in major cities outside of the immediate blast zone such as Salt Lake City and Denver.

Hot volcanic ash, rock and dust would rain down on those cities literally for weeks. In the end, it would be extremely difficult for anyone living in those communities to survive. In fact, it has been estimated that 90 percent of all people living within 600 miles of Yellowstone would be killed.

Experts project that such an eruption would dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away, and approximately two-thirds of the United States would suddenly become uninhabitable. The volcanic ash would severely contaminate most of our water supplies, and growing food in the middle of the country would become next to impossible.

In other words, it would be the end of our country as we know it today.

The rest of the planet, and this would especially be true for the northern hemisphere, would experience what is known as a “nuclear winter”. An extreme period of “global cooling” would take place, and temperatures around the world would fall by up to 20 degrees. Crops would fail all over the planet, and severe famine would sweep the globe.

In the end, billions could die.

So yes, this is a threat that we should take seriously.

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Billy the Poet's picture

You're either with us or with the volcano.

Bring it on.

tmosley's picture

>We're all going to die from a supervolcano next Thursday

Nice to see peak oilers have found a new hobby.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

 

You have some time left, Mr. Banks.
You have some life left.
My advice to you is: live it well.

SilverRhino's picture

The last time one of these went off (74K years ago) there were 5,000 human survivors worldwide.   

wee-weed up's picture

Looks like National Geographic needs to sell more magazine subscriptions.

greenskeeper carl's picture

So is this going to kill us all before or after global warming? Either way, we're DOOMED I tell ya, DOOMED.

 

Although if it does happen, the rest of the world will open its borders to us like we have to them, right? RIGHT?!? No? What are they, racist or something?

luky luke's picture

First, it was the ozone layer that was gonna fry us. Now, it's a Supervolcano. Jeez, those damn scientists.

http://biblicisminstitute.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/puzzled-scientists/

bigdumbnugly's picture

but it's very important that we monitor cow farts, dontcha know.

NoDebt's picture

"The rest of the planet, and this would especially be true for the northern hemisphere, would experience what is known as a “nuclear winter”. An extreme period of “global cooling” would take place, and temperatures around the world would fall by up to 20 degrees"

Well, that would be a dick right up the ass of the global warming extremists, wouldn't it?  Nobody wants to hear that shit.

 

 

 

Stuck on Zero's picture

Oh my. I'm staying in Yellowstone this August for the eclipse. I'm doomed.

Muddy1's picture

You will be disappointed because the full eclipse will NOT be passing over Yellowstone.

Muddy1's picture

And one of the experts cited in the article is none other than Michael Snyder who can't make an accurate financial collapse forecast to save his ass.

zebra77a's picture

Native Bands are suing to stop fracking while a 5.8 just hit Montana?  In otherwords Fracking on the CONUS could very soon become illegal, and the US government is going to realize they keep fracking around that magma pocket of Yellowstone and it erupts up.. game over. Which means we want to do it on someone elses turf - Like Syria where the Golan Heights happens to hold 500 billion barrels of oil that just happens to be under Israeli control.  

The middle-east is under a false peace folks, I cannot stress it enough WWIII it very probably going to start the end of July.

Oil will go to $150 a barrel, while today it is scaring every long out during it's routing.

Pinto Currency's picture

Yellowstone is fear porn to mentally freeze and distract citizens from the central banks collapse that is coming.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/volcanoqa.htm

Will the Yellowstone volcano erupt soon?
Current geologic activity at Yellowstone has remained relatively constant since scientists first started monitoring more than 30 years ago. Another caldera-forming eruption is theoretically possible, but it is very unlikely in the next thousand or even 10,000 years. Scientists have also found no indication of an imminent smaller eruption of lava.

How do scientists know the Yellowstone volcano won't erupt?
Scientists from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) watch an array of monitors in place throughout the region. These monitors would detect sudden or strong movements or shifts in heat that would indicate increasing activity. No such evidence exists at this time. In addition, YVO scientists collaborate with scientists from all over the world to study the hazards of the Yellowstone volcano. To view current data about earthquakes, ground movement, and stream flow visit the YVO website.

SoDamnMad's picture

I have an ETF that is based upon the super volcano Lasolfatara under Naples, Italy blowing first.  As the uplift continues I am trying to figure out how to offer lodging to a 100,000 refugees that have invaded Italy from the Libyan coast.  Extremely bullish.

eforce's picture

Well the FEMA camps are ready, just need an excuse to fill them.

Richard Chesler's picture

Tesla owners will not feel so smart once this thing blows up.

Took Red Pill's picture

Slow news day? Didn't we just see this story recently? It ain't gonna blow in our lifetime!

Slack Jack's picture

They are worried by an unlikely super-eruption when the really big problems of climate change stare them in the face.

So, why is the global rise in temperatures so worrisome?

For one thing, as temperatures rise good farmland will become desert (e.g., dust-bowl conditions will probably return to the American Midwest).

Another major problem is sea-level rise.

Have a look at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

The U.S. Geological Survey people claim that;

The Greenland ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 6.55 meters (21.5 feet),
the West Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 8.06 meters (26.4 feet),
the East Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 64.8 meters (212.6 feet),
and all other ice melting will raise sea-level 0.91 meters (3 feet).

For a grand total of about 80.3 meters (263.5 feet).

So, what does an 80 meter (263 feet) rise in sea-level mean. Have a look at the following map of the world after an 80 meter rise. It means that over one billion people will have to be resettled to higher ground and that much of the most productive agricultural land will be under water. Fortunately, at current rates, the Greenland ice sheet will take over a thousand years to melt and the Antarctica ice sheet, much longer. However, the greater the temperature rise the faster the ice sheets will melt, bringing the problem much closer. Remember, the huge ice sheet that recently covered much of North America, almost completely melted in only 15,000 years (today, only the Greenland ice sheet, and some other small patches of it, remain). Since then (15,000 years ago), sea-levels have risen about 125 meters (410 feet), only 80 meters to go.

The ice sheets have been continuously melting for thousands of years. What is left of them today, is still melting, and will continue to melt. Human caused global warning will cause this remnant to melt significantly faster. This is a big, big, problem.

For HUGE detailed maps of the "World after the Melt" go to:

http://preearth.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=23

Global temperatures are increasing. And by quite a lot each year.

2016 is the hottest year on record for global land temperatures.

This is 0.0963 degrees centigrade hotter than the previous record year which was 2015.

0.0963 is a large increase in just one year.

2015 was the hottest year (at that time) for global land temperatures.

This was 0.2415 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2014.

0.2415 is an absolutely huge increase in just one year.

2014 was the hottest year (at that time) for global land temperatures.

This was 0.0139 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2010.

http://preearth.net/images/temp-anomalies-1880-2017.txt

http://preearth.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=23

FarCanal's picture

Yawn,

The Climate has always changed there would be something wrong if it didn't.

And and change that is occuring is not caused by man's activities.I think the renowned Physicist Freeman Dyson knows more about it than you do.

"Freeman Dyson
Indur Goklany has done a careful job, collecting and documenting the evidence that
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does far more good than harm. To any unpreju-
diced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic
effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously
beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been
greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage."

http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2015/10/benefits1.pdf

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/11/freeman_dyson_interview/

 

 

Save_America1st's picture

I'll just say that I lived through Mt. St. Helens blowing her top back in 1980...I was not quite 9 years old and to this day I always think about it...especially on the May 18th anniversary every year.  It has always been burned into my memory.  I lived in Beaverton, Oregon and we had to wear masks for months outside.  The entire area was deeply blanketed in volcanic ash and it took years to wash it all away. 

Everyone knew for many months ahead of time that St. Helens was going to blow and they watched and studied it well before that day occurred.  I'll never forget that shit.  4 years later it blew up again during the summer like 3 or 4 times in a row one day sending massive mushroom clouds up into the sky...very cool to see, but it was a killer downwind of the blast zone. 

The destruction from the blast and the floods was devastating all through the I-5 corridor between Portland and Seattle for years.  The ash clouds from St. Helens traveled around the world and back over and over.  Everyone knows the story by now of course. 

But damn...just think if Yellowstone blows on that kind of scale or larger.  The devastation across America and around the world will be massive.  A game changer on par with a nuclear war. 

And speaking of Seattle...Mt. Raineer ain't no fuckin' joke either, bitchez....if that one ever blows?  It would be another St. Helens times 10.

I've always wondered if we could somehow interrupt massive eruptions like that by blowing them up first w/ tactical bombs placed deep inside.  Blow them up first to release the energy in a somewhat "controlled" way.  Would be interesting to see how that might work out.  Maybe the energy would collapse into itself back into the earth's mantle and eventually dissipate.  Might give more time above ground for things to chill out. 

It's not like Yellowstone doesn't have deep access all over to try out the experiment.  The geysers are perfect conduits down into the main caldera.  Drop some big tactical bombs down into it and blow it up to release all that energy.  It might just buy us another 1000 years if it works. 

Kinda like a controlled demolition...like 9/11 Twin Towers and Building 7.  Drop it right down into it's own footprint.  Same concept....it worked for the scumbags who blew up NYC that day.  ;-) wink wink, haha.  Fucking scumbags.  lol

solidus's picture

I bet we could get Bruce Willis to do it.

 

Charming Anarchist's picture

Nobody has ever dug much deeper than 8 miles down ANYWHERE on the face of the earth while science-fiction-actors-wearing-spectacles-lab-coats-carrying-clip-boards will have tards believe:

<< The plume of hot rock has been calculated at more than 600 miles deep. But scientists suspect it actually descends as far as 1,800 miles, all the way to what’s known as the Earth’s outer core-mantle boundary. >>

Dovda Wimar's picture

They can tell the difference between molten rock and solid rock by measuring the speed of Seismic waves and their reflection through the ground, just like an MRI or CAT scan. Plus, submarines can only navigate because they have windows, right? /sarc.

Griffin's picture

Seismic waves are used to build a model of the plume. This can be done because the magma in the plume is hotter than the surrounding material and the waves travel trough the colder material at a greater speed.

This method can be used to measure mantle plumes down to ca 600 miles, But if hot material is coming up from that depth, it is safe to assume that it comes from greater depth.

http://www.earth.northwestern.edu/people/seth/202/lectures/extra/hotspot...

Idaho potato head's picture

We could just have Chuck Norris stare at it, and like his live bear skin rug, it would be too afraid to move.

MalteseFalcon's picture

If I pay extra "Super Volcano" taxes, will this go away?

Atam Gits's picture

"I lived in Beaverton, Oregon and we had to wear masks for months outside.  The entire area was deeply blanketed in volcanic ash and it took years to wash it all away. "

Bullshit.  I grew up in that area.  I never wore a mask and the ash in Beaverton was only a few milimeters thick.  It was an inconvenience, nothing more.

Save_America1st's picture

if you didn't wear a mask that's your problem...everyone around us who cared and had any common sense sure did...ash was everywhere for months, even years...not that we wore masks for years of course, because eventually the worst of it was cleaned up and/or washed away over time.  But we had inches of that shit all over the place.  It covered the roads and houses and filled the gutters of every house in our neighborhood and that shit just would not go away easy.  If you want to dispute the word "deeply" then fine...be picky asshole about it if you want to...I don't really give a fuck.  But a quarter, half or inch of that crap covering everything no matter who you were back then was considered pretty fucking deep and nasty considering that area wasn't even in the main path of the worst of it.  When it was dry it kicked up everywhere and blew around all over the place piling up on and against everything.  Going outside with a mask was normal because nobody wanted to breath that shit in for fear of it possibly causing lung cancer.   

Rusty Shorts's picture

Ah yes Mt St. Helens, I was getting ready to graduate High School that year, I had just ordered a brand new 1980 Toyota SR5 4x4 truck from our local Toyota dealer. The Toyota dealer didn't have any SR5 4x4's in stock so they ordered one. In those days Toyota trucks were still manufactured in Japan. So my truck was shipped from Japan to Seattle WA and was shipped by rail to TN, the shipment was delayed because of the eruption and finally my truck was delivered, I was there when they unloaded it on the lot....covered in volcanic ash, drove it home like that I will never forget...

Stef1304's picture

Thank for taking the time to share your experience. But i doubt your idea is the good one. 

That supervolcano is said to be 1000 time more powerful, if i remember correctly, that Mount St Helens. 

And yes, it would mean the end of the world has we know it, for many obvious reasons. More specifically, it would wipe out the United States. 

First, it would take out the eletric system (including various nuclear plants) and the transportation system by airplane in US. Then, also the internet, and the financial system. And of course, the US food self sufficiency. As a consequence, the world economy, would crash down. Most surviving US citizen would become migrants (probably migrating toward the south hemisphere in English speaking countries).

Climat issue would be solved... for the southern hemisphere countries. The Northern hemisphere countries would struggle through a ice age.

 

Now, the bad news is that it can explode this year or next year, and if it does, there is nothing that technology can do about it. BUT the good news is that he can also explode in 100 000 years. So let's have a bit of faith and hope it can hold it a bit longer. ;-)

 

 

Stef1304's picture

Thank for taking the time to share your experience. But i doubt your idea is the good one. 

That supervolcano is said to be 1000 time more powerful, if i remember correctly, that Mount St Helens. 

And yes, it would mean the end of the world has we know it, for many obvious reasons. More specifically, it would wipe out the United States. 

First, it would take out the eletric system (including various nuclear plants) and the transportation system by airplane in US. Then, also the internet, and the financial system. And of course, the US food self sufficiency. As a consequence, the world economy, would crash down. Most surviving US citizen would become migrants (probably migrating toward the south hemisphere in English speaking countries).

Climat issue would be solved... for the southern hemisphere countries. The Northern hemisphere countries would struggle through a ice age.

 

Now, the bad news is that it can explode this year or next year, and if it does, there is nothing that technology can do about it. BUT the good news is that he can also explode in 100 000 years. So let's have a bit of faith and hope it can hold it a bit longer. ;-)

 

 

jeff montanye's picture

that strikes me as a straw man argument.  it's not carbon dioxide or no carbon dioxide, it's minute changes at the margin that may or may not be influential, as far as i know.

but as far as burning fossil fuels more at the margin, why?  photovoltaic and wind turbine are cost equivalent without subsidy in sunny and windy places.  fossil fuels are wonderful compounds yet dirty and disease causing chemicals used as we do.  leave them in the ground for when we have a better understanding of physics, chemistry and biology.

divingengineer's picture

Need a catchy name for the FEMA camp, like "Salvation Acres", or "Prosperity Point".
You won't be able to keep em out with a flame thrower then.

Dyingtime's picture

I say we put Maxine Waters to good use and have go take charge at Yellowstone. I mean what would be the harm and her final broadcast would be better than Woody's from 2012.

AVmaster's picture

Yep, its when the "dome" of the volcano starts moving and/or magma starts coming out of the vents is when you have to worry.

Griffin's picture

Iceland sits on top of a a huge mantle plume that is also very deep, and probably reaches all the way to the earths core, some 2900 km.

It is called the Icelandic mantle flower, because it has five petals that reach in all directions from the centerpoint of the plume.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2129216-strange-mantle-plume-under-...

 

Not long ago there was a fissure eruption at Holuhraun that produced a lava flow called Nornahraun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmCJSS2YAP0

This was a vent from a volcano called Bárðarbunga, who is very close to the middle of the plume.

There was also a similar eruption in 1996 called Gjálp, that one went in the opposite direction.

 

Odds are, in the unlikely event of a eruption at Yellowstone, that it would be relatively small.

The big ones seem to be few and very far apart.

 

 

 

OverTheHedge's picture

No one is mentioning the ground rising up,  which was a panic inducing fear porn thing a few years ago. Did it drop back down again? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110119-yellowstone-park-...

hannah's picture

so pinto you BELIEVE the yellowstone info from the government but you DONT believe the same government on everything else......! ha...! we have 30 years worth of data out of a history of billions...that makes these scientist some super motherfucking extrapolationists.....!

 

yellowstone will erupt again. we cant do a thing about it. it will wipe out 98% of life on earth.

buttmint's picture

true, Yellowstone is a big Distraction show, but maybe---just maybe the seeia have plans to embed a nuke once the main conduit opens up.

Don't wanna miss out on capitalizing on a disaster. FEMA camps would become oasis!

cheech_wizard's picture

Think of all that Yellowstone geothermal energy just going to waste.

Standard Disclaimer: In the early 1990s, the Israel National Oil Company (INOC) was granted shaft-sinking permits in the Golan Heights. It estimated a recovery potential of two million barrels of oil, equivalent at the time to $24 million.

You're a fracking moron.

divingengineer's picture

Recoverable in the 90s vs. recoverable now is not even the same ballpark.
Tight oil is almost everywhere they look for it. It's a whole lot better than nothing, but it is subpar compared to the old Oklahoma gushers of the late 1800s.

Clashfan's picture

Oh THAT guy, the one who says we're cursed if we don't do what Izrahole says. Terrific.

ImGumbydmmt's picture
Muddy1 Muddy1 Jul 9, 2017 12:20 AM

And one of the experts cited in the article is none other than Michael Snyder who can't make an accurate financial collapse forecast to save his ass.

+1000

weburke's picture

it is well within the usual numbers of earthquakes.

Creative_Destruct's picture

With geologic time scales and an approximate 600,000 year irregular cycle this could happen tomorrow or 1000+ years from now and still be a normal variation in the timing. Or it may never errupt again as some geologists claim.

Something, someday WILL almost certainly cause a major reduction in the human population. Better a natural volcanic disaster we can all rally together around as a reset rather than nuclear armageddon or  bloody civil wars.

NugginFuts's picture

All this tells me ist hat I need to buy more silver!