Wed. Dec 2nd, 2020

Yellowstone eruption: What happens if Yellowstone erupts? USGS explains

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Yellowstone volcano, located in Wyoming, US, is one of the most powerful volcanoes on the planet. A Yellowstone eruption could devastate large swathes of the US, and form an ash cloud in the Earth’s atmosphere which could plunge the planet into chaos.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the surrounding States of Yellowstone – Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming – would be hit by pyroclastic flows.

Pyroclastic flows are streams of super-hot gas which would turn anything it approaches into ash.

A huge ash cloud could cover the United States within three days as part of an eruption could be a staggering 6,000 times as powerful as the one from Washington’s Mount St Helens in 1980 which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces.

The USGS said: “If another large, caldera-forming eruption were to occur at Yellowstone, its effects would be worldwide. Such a giant eruption would have regional effects such as falling ash and short-term (years to decades) changes to global climate.

“Those parts of the surrounding states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that are closest to Yellowstone would be affected by pyroclastic flows, while other places in the United States would be impacted by falling ash (the amount of ash would decrease with distance from the eruption site).

“Such eruptions usually form calderas, broad volcanic depressions created as the ground surface collapses as a result of withdrawal of partially molten rock (magma) below.”

Fortunately, the USGS said an eruption will not happen for thousands of years at least, potentially never again.

However, the aftermath of a Yellowstone eruption could see starvation around the globe and financial chaos.

Bryan Walsh, author of the new book End Times which analyses the existential threats humanity faces, including the possibility of a supervolcano eruption, wrote in his book: “[A Yellowstone eruption] would be felt well beyond the United States.

“Half of the world’s serial grains are produced on North American farmland, and losing much of the Midwest farm belt, even temporarily, could mean global famine.

“Take $3 trillion (£2.4 trillion) or more out of the US economy and you have a recipe for a financial crash that would make the Great Depression look like a mild bump.”

Naomi Woods, a Virginia Tech geology alumni, explained on Q+A site Quora:“Sunlight would be blocked out and the ash particulates would take several years to fall out from our atmosphere. My guess is 5-10 years if we are lucky, 15-20 years if were not.

“The sheer volume of the ash generated would block out sunlight, creating a ‘twilight/dusk’ that’d last for years.

“This would also end global warming and be the start of an ice age. The end result is that plant life would start dying off globally. Animals (herbivores) depending on it would starve. Carnivores depending on herbivores would starve.”

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