NASA Unveils Plan To Stop Yellowstone "Supervolcano" Eruption, There's Just One Catch

Tyler Durden's picture

A NASA plan to stop the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting, could actually cause it to blow... triggering a nuclear winter that would wipe out humanity.

As we have detailed recently, government officials have been closely monitoring the activity in the Yellowstone caldera.

However, as's Mac Slavo details, scientists at NASA have now come up with an incredibly risky plan to save the United States from the super volcano.

A NASA scientist has spoken out about the true threat of super volcanoes and the risky methods that could be used to prevent a devastating eruption. Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber, called a caldera. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at NASA, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilization as we know it.

Brian Wilcox, a former member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense, shared a report on the natural hazard that hadn’t been seen outside of the agency until now. Following an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it.

“I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology.  


“I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”

Yellowstone currently leaks about 60 to 70 percent of its heat into the atmosphere through stream water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks, while the rest of the heat builds up as magma and dissolves into volatile gasses. The heat and pressure will reach the threshold, meaning an explosion is inevitable. When NASA scientists considered the fact that a super volcano’s eruption would plunge the earth into a volcanic winter, destroying most sources of food, starvation would then become a real possibility.  Food reserves would only last about 74 days, according to the UN, after an eruption of a super volcano, like that under Yellowstone.  And they have devised a risky plan that could end up blowing up in their faces.  Literally.

Wilcox hypothesized that if enough heat was removed, and the temperature of the super volcano dropped, it would never erupt. But he wants to see a 35% decrease in temperature, and how to achieve that, is incredibly risky. One possibility is to simply increase the amount of water in the supervolcano. As it turns to steam. the water would release the heat into the atmosphere, making global warming alarmists tremble.

“Building a big aqueduct uphill into a mountainous region would be both costly and difficult, and people don’t want their water spent that way,” Wilcox says. “People are desperate for water all over the world and so a major infrastructure project, where the only way the water is used is to cool down a supervolcano, would be very controversial.”

So, NASA came up with an alternative plan. They believe the most viable solution could be to drill up to 10km down into the super volcano and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46 billion, it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians (taxpayers) to make the investment.

“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”

Of course, drilling into a super volcano comes with its own risks, like the eruption that scientists are desperate to prevent. Triggering an eruption by drilling would be disastrous.

“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says.


“If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”

The cooling of Yellowstone in this manner would also take tens of thousands of years, but it is a plan that scientists at NASA are considering for every super volcano on earth.

“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says.


“People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.

So what would happen?

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Sugarcandy Mountain's picture

NASA. The very same organisation that got to the moon (cough) with 1960s technology but now find it impossible to return 50 years later, even with the giant leaps made in available tech.

Never A Stright Answer.

squid's picture

Two points:

1. From memory, I recall that NASA was a space agency, not a geophysical agency. Shouldn't we be deferring to the US Geological survey on this?

2. This is starting to smell like another globull warming scare to bilk tax payers with.


NASA should concentrate on space and shutup about everything else.



indygo55's picture

"From memory, I recall that NASA was a space agency,"

I think they are, in the beginning anyway, all nazis brought over from Germany after WW2. Wow, how ironic. 

Vimes's picture

Drilling down a different hole! (Socialism tends to do that, including National Socialism)

dchang0's picture

It's all about justifying funding and funding requests. How many bureaus and departments are there out there that duplicate or overlap responsibilities? Too damn many.

fannyplucker's picture

The NASA  risk management team was probably trained  by Yelan, Bernanke and Greenspan. What could possibly go wrong?

tuetenueggel's picture

Why not send these NASA assholes to moon ?

terrific's picture

"In hindsight, it was a mistake to drill into the volcano, which ended up unintentionally destroying almost all life on earth.  What can we say?  We're sorry, really, really sorry, and we'll never do it again.  You have our word on that."

indygo55's picture

Well they have those underground facilities don't they? The problem with the one in Denver airport area is that they need to fly in to get there. If the airport is somehow closed they need to drive and rub elbows with the rest of the panicing crowd. Close that airport and the whole thing is kind of a no-go. All that work. What a shame. And they have years of supplies I understand. Maybe if they have a warning before hand. Would anyone else find out? What a shit-show. These people have to go. 

J Jason Djfmam's picture

Sounds like those guys in Louisiana drilling for oil above a salt dome.

They ended up draining a large lake along with a big piece of island and several boats into the salt dome before it filled up.

idontcare's picture

More fake news.  

What else is new with NASA?!


wwxx's picture

I love that, yanno the FRACKING, it was introduced as 'high pressure water down a well', then it was high pressure secret recipe water down a well, and really it is detonation deep below surface that gets the fracture & earthquakes which is good when your extracting liquid or gaseous resources.


And now we have NASA FRACKING, as if space trash was not enough~~~ they introduce as 'water down a deep well', but ummmmmmmmmmmm oh yeah because super hot water doesn't do much to rock!!  Just one or two of the induced earthquakes might be three or four..., lava flows, and other side effects, OMG the nuclear spent fuel storage is overflowing down in Texas....ya lets do something about that! --pump a bunch of nuclear waste down that yellowstone hole, and incinerate the substance before...oh well there was going to be a winter-like cloud either way ya go ANYYYYYYYYYWAY.  >>> kicks can down the road, yes we can blame this too on Bush Cheney & co., just look at when NASA FRACKING originated.



wwxx's picture

I'm pretty sure the NASA hyped eclipse is still on schedule, as a tweetdistraction from the SUPERVOLCANO NASA FRACKING count down persists in 3 - 2 - 1  Now how is your happy weekend looking?   hahahahah

Faeriedust's picture

Yes, it is potentially quite dangerous.  It's what caused the eruption of Thera and drowned Atlantis.  I do think we've  learned a LITTLE since then, though.

Vimes's picture

Humanity can build geothermal power stations all over the world. Essentially, 'someone' is very much against this. The only place I know of is Iceland and they achieved it as it's the easiest place to do so with the technology they had at the time.

As stupid as this idea sounds, I don't think they will make an exception for this place. (Although they are certainly insane enough to try:D)

Faeriedust's picture

Yes, Iceland is a very practical nation with limited resources and no entrenched fossil fuel interests.  Also as a small inbred population with one of the world's oldest democracies, they have more control over their "leaders" than practically anywhere else on earth.  Remember, they're the only ones who repudiated bankster debt and put the frauds in jail.

quasi_verbatim's picture

With a Norko nuke over Yellowstone, who needs EMP?

dchang0's picture

I figure if they injected waste water or salt water into the caldera if it would be purified into pure H2O (the waste and salt would melt or burn away). It might be a way to accomplish desalination and water purification more rapidly than through natural processes. Though the steam would be nearly impossible to collect, we could just let it go back into the ecosystem and fall as rain later on.

oldbadger's picture

Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber, called a caldera


So funny

are we there yet's picture

Hawaiians used to sacrifice a virgin to appease a volcano. Do they have any left to give to the super volcano god? Any cute virgins wanting to not be sacrificed, give me a call.

Victory_Garden's picture

So ah, when that sun spot is earth facing in a few days, will the fake sun, or moon eclipse cause a CME of record proportions?

Gee by golly, sure hope not.

Eyes to the solar issue...fark the distractions.

BigCumulusClouds's picture

Why are bureaucrats always trying to play God?

Expat's picture

Yayy.  More ZH experts chiming in pretending they are smarter than Tha multiple doctorate holding experts at NASA. 

Lots of stupid ideas and misconceptions.  Keep up the good work, ZHers.  At least when you comment about this stuff you offend only scientists.

Benjamin123's picture

Doctorate students are usually cowards who dont want to leave school. Ever. And most of them never deserved to enter postgraduate studies. They stay in school for the stipend, crank out a couple of trivial papers no one ever reads and voila! a doctor.

Faeriedust's picture

I'm sorry, but this crosses the line.  I've worked with these kids.  They're smart and very hardworking -- usually put in 70 hours a week for a decade getting their degrees and their internships.  Most also have at least one productive skill.  In the sciences, they jury-rig so much lab equipment they become good amateur engineers; in the social sciences they usually take up a primitive handicraft or three, building our resilience for when SHTF.  The papers are mostly trivial but that's a function of the reward system and the social milieu.  Cut government funding in half, make student loans defaultable so they can afford to leave school, and most of those kids would become a kick-ass generation of engineers and product managers.

Benjamin123's picture

Im not buying it. I know loads of grad students and phd types and most of them are losers. They waste their best years doing the worst types of meaningless research.

Degrees like masters and doctorates should only be granted to actual experts in fields with decades of experience. Graduate students are the exact opposite of people with decades of experience. They are amateurs who are just getting started by the time they are forced to leave academia.

Peak Finance's picture

Faeriedust, What fucking century are you talking about? Yea maybe like 25 - 30 years ago the PHD programs were as you described, but now, it's farcical. 

I think about 3 years ago now I had my PHD Stats class. It was EASIER than my UNDERGRAD stats class from 40-ish years ago. 

Academica is a joke now. 


Bemused Observer's picture

True scientists would never be offended by new ideas. Many of the ones we have today are NOT true scientists. Case in point...The 'scientists' say that the science of global warming is "settled"...Really?


Science is NEVER 'settled'. And no true scientist would EVER say such a thing. They know that all we ever have is CURRENT knowledge, which is often replaced with better understandings as time goes by. True science is ALWAYS asking questions, and questioning established beliefs, this process NEVER stops.


So when some self-proclaimed 'expert', with lots of fancy credentials, tells you that all questions have been closed, and the issue is 'settled', you may safely laugh in his face and call him a all REAL scientists would do.

Calculus99's picture

"Estimated cost of $3.46billion". 

And who's in charge? 

The government, where incompetence, corruption and bullshit come together. 

So make that $34.6billion and probably even more.

RovingGrokster's picture

Can't we trap government emissions for energy?

White Devil's picture

What a steaming load of shit. Solve the lambda equation in 3 minutes. Thank you, drive through.

c2nnib2l's picture

Human Sacrifice to please Volcano Gods worked for thousands of years. 

I suggest starting with Nancy Polosi and see what happens


byt the way. I think this might be another type of global warming Hoax. New Paris Treaty will emerge soon you watch 

messystateofaffairs's picture

Nancy Pelosi is not suitable for a sacrice, she would cause the volcano to vomit.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

The .gov's answer to "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" card, or face the same extinction through "nuclear winter" when we provoke either DPRK Russia or China directly and get some of these in North America and Western Europe ( (!


jharry's picture

We could power the US with the heat from Yellowstone.  Use it to generate electricity as the guv does in Iceland. 

Bemused Observer's picture

Not sure, but I think the Icelandic volcanoes are a different type from Yellowstone. In Iceland, the activity is from the land being spread apart, I think that moves more smoothly. In the western US, the land mass is being jammed under the Pacific plate, which produces those sudden release quakes that are very destructive.

Like I said, not certain, but I do recall hearing something to this effect. Some geothermal areas are more 'gentle' than others, so can be more easily 'tapped' into. Others are too unpredictable, with forces too great to manage.

Wahooo's picture

Mother Nature has the shits. Just pump it full of imodium.

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Looks like even Mother Nature has just about had it...

and is getting ready to blow Her top & bury the the USSA under 6-foot of ash for its "Global Supremacy" impudence - with or without the help of a couple of well-placed in-coming ICBMs brought to you courtesy of the NeoCONs.

Hmmm... what was it again that they used to say about FULL Solar Eclipses being harbingers?

Last of the Middle Class's picture

Please don't use the phrase "cost around $3.46 billion". Elon just wet his pants, and you know damn well the government through it's own corrupt and greedy processes would  come up with a total incompetent like Elon to attempt to drill the well. Although theoretically possible at this point in our government cycle there is no way it could be effectively managed with an alphabet of government agencies involved. Overnight, it would turn into 10 billion minimum needed and if it were completed the energy would be stolen by crony capitalists who got there early through their government contacts. It's just the way our large government works now a days.

Faeriedust's picture

You're right.  No FDR or Joseph Kennedy around to keep the banksters in line, this time around.

Sid James's picture


"Food reserves would only last about 74 days [for everyone but the rich], according to the UN".

There, fixed it for you.

moman's picture

Solution: Eat the rich, they are GMO free.

messystateofaffairs's picture

Yellowstone eruption will coat Washington D.C. in only one to two millimeters of ash. That is the true tragedy.

silverer's picture

Those ashholes certainly deserve more than that.

tuetenueggel's picture

Build a huge concrete ass over Washing Town and cover it with turds. They deserve it.