When nearly 900 earthquakes occur in the space of just a few short weeks near supervolcano, geologists understandably get a little concerned. When that supervolcano has the potential to wipe out life as we know it?
That’s a wholly different story.
Yellowstone National Park sits atop one of the world’s largest volcanoes, one that’s been dormant more than 70,000 years – but in the past few weeks, the area has been shaken by nearly 900 quakes.
The quakes have been small – the largest, recorded June 15th, was of a 4.4 magnitude, but still it has people wondering, as seismic activity can be a sign of the first stages of volcanic reawakening. After all, it’s not as if Yellowstone’s supervolcano is wholly inactive – just consider Old Faithful and the other geothermal activity in the park!
While the experts haven’t raised the alert level from green, they do note that when Yellowstone blows, it could easily be a thousand times more powerful than Mt St Helens’ eruption in 1980.
Even more astonishing is the size of what would be at play, as researchers discovered just a few years ago that the magma chamber beneath Yellowstone was significantly larger than previously realized – several hundred square miles!
And when Yellowstone does blow – even if it isn’t soon – it could have catastrophic results. In addition to the lava, the ash could stretch across at least half – if not more – of the United States, leaving several inches of ash on the ground, killing crops across the country.
The gases spewed by such an eruption could create acid rain, and the ash cloud could lead to a sort of global winter – similar to how the Krakotoa eruption led to global famines and the “year without a summer.”
There’s also the matter of the carbon stores beneath the park – should such a large amount of carbon be dispelled into the atmosphere, it could spur an environmental disaster the likes of which have never in recorded human history been seen.
As a result, though geologists say there are no signs that such an eruption is imminent, given that the current swarm of earthquakes are so similar to previous swarms, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the dangers of such a supervolcano.
Source: Organic & Healthy