Why Yellowstone volcano is considered the most dangerous in the world

(ORDO NEWS) — Perhaps there is no such person who would not have heard of the Yellowstone volcano. Its giant caldera, which occupies a third of Yellowstone National Park, is the largest supervolcano in North America, and more recently it has also been the object of close attention of scientists and fans of volcanology. Yellowstone is a dormant supervolcano, but its activity has grown rapidly in recent years. Many researchers argue that a volcanic eruption can occur as early as 2015-2016, and its consequences will be catastrophic for the population of our entire planet.

History of the Yellowstone Caldera

Strong volcanic eruptions lead to partial devastation of the underground magma chamber. In this connection, the above-ground part of the rock can settle, creating a caldera. The Yellowstone supervolcano has a huge caldera that occupies almost half of the park of the same name, its size is 55 by 72 km.

Yellowstone began to shake again more than earthquakes in a month

The supervolcano caldera was discovered relatively recently, in the 1960s. Various travelers and naturalists described the geysers with bubbling water discovered, but the government did not believe their words. So far no satellite imagery has been seen.

Experts have found that the crater of the Yellowstone volcano hides a danger – a huge bubble of magma. Hot magma is located shallow, by the standards of other volcanoes, only at the level of 8 thousand meters. The temperature reaches 800 ° C, which allows heating water sources, displacing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from the bowels of the earth.

Of particular danger is the connection between the supervolcano and the plume, which carries the flow of mantle rock from the Earth’s core to its surface. In fact, this plume is capable of supplying the Yellowstone volcano with raw materials for an eruption for several weeks or even months. The plume’s trunk is 660 km long, and closer to the surface of the earth, it expands in the form of a funnel.

Yellowstone supervolcano

Yellowstone is the first supervolcano to be discovered. It is located above the so-called “hot spot” – an area where large masses of molten mantle rock move to the surface, explains naukatehnika.com. This process continues for millions and tens of millions of years. And the hot spot does not sit still, but is steadily moving across the continent to the northeast.

The Yellowstone supervolcano erupted “on a large scale” three times: 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640 thousand years ago. Many media outlets write that, based on these figures, the time for a new eruption has just come.

English geologist Bill McGuire even named the exact date of the eruption: according to his calculations, Yellowstone should explode in 2074.

In the territory of Yellowstone found a treasure for a million dollars

Features of supervolcanoes

Supervolcanoes are giant geological formations that can only be seen from space. Unlike ordinary volcanic mountains, they look like a huge crater called a caldera. Due to the explosion and the release of a colossal amount of terrestrial matter into the atmosphere, the surface begins to sink, which leads to the appearance of a caldera. The area of ​​such formations may exceed the area of ​​Moscow!

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The enormous energy of such eruptions is associated with the fact that under a dense layer of rocks a huge volume of hot magma from the so-called plume accumulates, the pressure of which gradually increases, and when the resistance of the earth’s crust becomes greater, a powerful explosion occurs. Its power is so great that it can be heard all over the planet!

Yellowstone What happens if a supervolcano erupts

The power of eruptions of supervolcanoes is an order of magnitude greater than usual (more than 1000 km3 of ejected matter). For comparison: the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which paralyzed aircraft flights in 2010, threw out only 0.25 km3. Known for its devastating consequences and sacrifices, the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. NS. gave 3 km3 of material. Volcano Pinatubo, which significantly cooled the global climate, spat out 10 km3 in 1991. The most powerful volcano Krakatoa in 1883 gave 12 km3, and the Tambora volcano in 1815 – as much as 150-180 km3.

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The last eruption of the supervolcano occurred on the island. North in New Zealand, when 1,170 km3 were ejected. Even more powerful was the eruption of the Toba volcano in the north of about. Sumatra 75 thousand years ago. Then 2800 km3 were released, which led to the appearance of layers with an increased sulfur content throughout the planet. The volcanic winter lasted from 6 to 10 years. There is an assumption that this eruption almost destroyed the rudiments of human civilization.

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Why all the attention is now on Yellowstone

Among the likely candidates for the next super-eruption, the Yellowstone supervolcano is in first place. In the distant past, the power of its eruptions reached 2500 km3, and now scientists suggest that it may erupt again. This is evidenced by the processes taking place in the earth’s crust under the national park located there, in particular, ground tremors. In total, about 20 supervolcanoes, both active and inactive, have been discovered on the planet.

The Yellowstone Plateau has been found to rise by 1.5 cm per year, indicating an increase in magma pressure. The peak of the rise was in 2004-2008 (over 7 cm per year). Other supervolcanoes are still, so to speak, on vacation, and we should not expect explosive eruptions from them now.

Near the Yellowstone caldera, many observation stations have been installed that allow tracking the activity of processes occurring in the earth’s interior. However, no one undertakes to make predictions yet. And in order not to irritate the population once again, some of the information is generally classified. It can be assumed that even if scientists make a forecast of an eruption (say, 50 years later), it will be prohibited to publish it in the media, because this can cause panic and a massive outflow of population not only from the Yellowstone area, but also from the United States in general, and can lead to a sharp decline in labor productivity and quality of life of the population.

Science knows 3 giant Yellowstone eruptions: 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640 thousand years ago.

Hazard level

As scientists from NASA recently reported, the eruption of a supervolcano is a potentially more dangerous risk factor for humanity than an asteroid impact. Firstly, the risk of such eruptions is much higher, secondly, scientists cannot yet predict them, and thirdly, we do not know how to prevent such eruptions. As scientists say, in the next 100 years, there will be almost no global catastrophe associated with asteroids, but no one can vouch for volcanoes.

Leo and 2 More In the period of the historical past, mankind has not yet encountered mega-eruptions. And over the past 2.5 billion years, only 15 cases are reliably known, although it is not clear how many there actually were.

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What will happen to humanity

As follows from the UN calculations, food supplies for people will only last for 74 days (data for 2012). Now, given the rapid growth in world food prices, they may be lower. And the larger the population of the Earth, the more terrible the consequences of the activity of the supervolcano for humanity will be. An important factor in reducing the catastrophic consequences will be how much alternative energy technologies (RES, nuclear, thermonuclear) will develop by the time of the eruption. If people, fleeing from the cold, rely on fossil fuels and biomass, then in combination with the greenhouse gases emitted by the volcano, a strong greenhouse effect will arise, which will replace the nuclear winter. However, the already existing greenhouse effect may make the volcanic winter less severe.

What else raises concerns

According to some assumptions, the explosion of Yellowstone will cause a chain reaction, waking up all active volcanoes on the planet, leading to an even greater apocalypse. And although this does not look very plausible, 2 raging volcanoes (in the Canary Islands and the recently awakened giant in Hawaii), as well as the deterioration of the seismic situation in the Yellowstone area, may indicate the interconnection of volcanoes.

Why is the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano dangerous?

According to The Independent, the explosion will release huge amounts of dust and gas. They will block out the sun and thereby destroy crops and plunge the world into a volcanic winter.

In the first minutes of the eruption, all life within a radius of more than 1200 km will be destroyed, writes “KP”. The US West Coast will become a dead zone.

Due to the earthquake, ordinary volcanoes will begin to erupt around the world. Acid rains will begin in a day. Due to the destruction of the ozone layer, a large number of people will become victims of solar radiation … and so on and so forth.

NASA has already proposed a plan to prevent the threat. To put it very simply, they want to “pump” heat out of the caldera and convert it into electrical energy. This requires $ 3 billion, writes habr.com.

Yellowstone In April over tremors occurred in the caldera of a supervolcano

However, there is an opinion that the threat of a supervolcano eruption is exaggerated.

The edition naukatehnika.com notes: it is wrong to say that a supervolcano is capable of completely destroying life on the planet. First, “it is possible that the volcano will change its mind about exploding altogether, spending all its energy on geyser shows.”

Secondly, if an eruption happens, it is likely to cause a few bad years in America, but it will not undermine its economy at all. Around the world, flooding is possible (due to longer rainfall – normal, not acidic), asthmatic diseases are expected to intensify. In general, this will not threaten the existence of a person as a species, but it will provoke many personal tragedies.

1. Causes of the explosion of the Yellowstone supervolcano

There are only two reasons for any supervolcano to explode. Including the Yellowstone volcano.

The first reason is natural. When magma accumulates under great pressure in a volcanic chamber. If the pressure exceeds the permissible limits, then the exit to the surface can be in the nature of an explosion.

For ordinary volcanoes, this is a regional disaster. For supervolcanoes, it is a global disaster.

A supervolcano is a volcano whose eruption can trigger climate change on the planet (VEI 8). There are about 20 supervolcanoes known to science on Earth. On average, eruptions occur once every 50-150 thousand years.

The second reason is technogenic.

Humanity may try to take control of the volcano. For example, to drill a hole to gradually relieve pressure in a volcanic chamber. Such an attempt can get out of control and lead to an uncontrolled explosion.

In addition, an eruption can be provoked using weapons of great destructive power. For example, nuclear. As a result, an earthquake will occur, which will provoke an eruption.

2. What will happen to the United States if Yellowstone explodes

A Yellowstone explosion can release 1,000 to 2,500 cubic kilometers of particulate matter, most of it in the form of ash.

The top of the super-volcano (within a radius of 50-100 km) will fall into the bowels of the planet by 30-50 km. Let me remind you that the Yellowstone caldera is 2 times the area of ​​Moscow.

For 2-3 thousand kilometers around, ash will fall in a layer of up to a meter, in the rest of the United States – ash with a layer of up to 0.3 meters.

The death toll in the first hours and days is estimated at 50-80 million people.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Impact Zone All infrastructure will be destroyed. Industry and agriculture will disappear. The population will live only at the expense of the state reserve, which, probably, in the United States can be enough for several years. But not for everyone.

3. What will happen to the world if the Yellowstone volcano explodes

A layer of ash, impervious to sunlight, will appear over the planet. It can survive in the atmosphere for at least 2-4 years.

The planes will stay on the ground. The temperature will drop. According to some data, by 3-5 degrees, according to others – by 20 degrees.

In the first case, the situation will resemble a small climatic pessimum (ice age). In the second case, the entire planet will be covered with a glacier.

Agriculture will die. Only the greenhouses, provided with energy from the nuclear power plant, will remain operational. The rivers will freeze, there will be no sun, stars, moon in the sky at all.

Half of the world’s population will die in the first year. Mostly from lack of medicine, lack of food and water. And also from the wars for resources.

4. What will happen to Russia if the Yellowstone supervolcano explodes

In the first hours and days, much depends on the speed and direction of the spread of volcanic ash. In the first hours, the European part of Russia and the west of Siberia may suffer least of all.

But in the end, the analogue of “nuclear winter” will come on the entire planet. The situation will be approximately the same as described with point # 3. Agriculture will be destroyed.

Thanks to the presence in the Russian Federation of two million security guards of private security companies (who will be mobilized immediately), the National Guard and a powerful army, the situation in society will be taken under the control of the government.

As a result, the power structures can be increased to 5-7 million people, which is very important for ensuring order and security in times of crisis. To do this, there are hundreds of thousands of weapons, equipment, hundreds of millions of tons of ammunition in warehouses.

The huge reserves of the Federal Reserve will be printed. Let me remind you that the warehouses and bunkers of Rosrezerv have everything you need to ensure the lives of tens of millions of people. And these are huge food supplies, thousands of brand new trucks, spare parts, tools, equipment, medicines, etc.

By the way, this is where the huge funds from the budget “flow away” – this is for those who do not like Putin’s rule and who accuse him of embezzlement.

There will be no ash fallout. Our nuclear power plants will be able to provide a minimum of electricity for the needs of the population (in contrast, for example, from Germany, where they are leaving the use of nuclear power plants).

My prediction is that Russia will be the only country to survive the Yellowstone explosion with minimal losses.

5. Historical example of a super-volcano explosion

The last major eruption of Yellowstone happened about 640 thousand years ago. Its power was 2.5 thousand times greater than the power of the largest eruptions of Mount Etna. But even as a result of these eruptions, the coastline of the ocean was changing and the Mediterranean Sea was frozen.

In 1815, the Tambora volcano erupted in Indonesia. As a result, an analogue of “nuclear winter” has come on earth. In history, the next year, 1816, is called the Year Without Summer.

On the VEI volcanic eruption scale, it was 7 units (1 less than the likely eruption of Yellowstone). About 200 cubic kilometers of ash were thrown into the air (5 times less than Yellowstone can throw out).

As a result. For example, even in July 1816, there were frosts and snow in America. According to historians, in Switzerland near Lake Geneva, residents almost never left their homes due to bad weather.

Agricultural productivity has dropped. Due to the lack of oats, the death of horses was noted. Trade was disrupted.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. Due to the lack of horses, the German inventor Karl Drez created a prototype of a bicycle, and civilization followed the path of mechanizing transport.

The aftermath of the explosion of the Yellowstone Caldera

The last serious eruption of Yellowstone happened 640 thousand years ago, the cyclicality of its explosions is about 650 thousand years, which means that the next eruption will occur literally from day to day. The force of the explosion of such a supervolcano is equal to the impact of a huge asteroid, the consequences, by the way, will be identical. To imagine the possible consequences of the coming disaster, one can recall the latest explosion of a supervolcano named Taupo (New Zealand), which occurred 26 thousand years ago. The changes in the biosphere were relatively small.

But the Toba caldera made an impression for many years, it exploded almost 75 thousand years ago. A huge amount of ash got into the atmosphere, resulting in a six-month night. The entire planet plunged into winter. The air temperature dropped by 11 ° C, killing 5 out of 6 all living organisms. The worst thing is that Yellowstone is 3 times bigger than Tob.

The consequences of the Yellowstone explosion have already been predicted by dozens of experts. On the eve of the eruption, the earth’s crust will begin to rise, and the soil in the caldera zone will warm up to 70 ° C. The explosion will push the magma flow to an altitude of at least 50 km. The strongest earthquake will affect every corner of the world. All living things within a radius of 1200 km will die almost instantly.

The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco will drown in snowdrifts and boulders of volcanic slag. The third part of North America will be instantly wiped off the face of the Earth. Tremors will provoke a massive eruption of smaller volcanoes, including water volcanoes, after which a tsunami will appear, sweeping away all coastal cities. Acid rains will pass literally in a couple of hours, which will destroy almost all vegetation.

The ozone hole will increase tenfold, irradiating all survivors with radiation. Some nearby countries will simply cease to exist. Pipelines, roads and power lines will fail due to an earthquake and a sudden cold snap. Densely populated countries will be the first to suffer, with more than 2 billion people dying of hunger.

The least affected residents of Siberia and central Russia, as this part of the planet is farthest from the alleged explosion.

When will this happen?

Geologists, volcanologists and other experts cannot agree on when to expect the next super-eruption of Yellowstone. Optimists estimate the probability of a cataclysm in the modern period as negligible: 0.00014%. Pessimists remind that such events are not regular and can break out at any moment. Experts from the European Science Foundation even give their probability of an impending eruption: 10%.

Scientists argue about the frequency with which the Yellowstone supervolcano reaches its boiling point. Some say that now it is in the middle of its usual cycle, others argue that its giant eruptions occur every 600-800 thousand years, and therefore the “X hour” is close. The most popular point of view was expressed by the American professor Ron Smith, speaking at the University of Dixie in Utah: “This may well happen in 500 thousand years, or maybe a week after Tuesday.”

Montana State urges to close Yellowstone

And the US Geological Survey is of the opinion that no matter how powerful the Yellowstone explosion is and whenever it happens, it will not be a volcanic eruption, but a hydrothermal one. That is, it is not hot magma mixed with ash and poisonous gases that will break out to the surface of the earth, but only hot water, steam and some chemical compounds.

Yellowstone structure and eruptions

Yellowstone is located above the so-called hot spot, characterized by prolonged volcanism. For a long time it was believed that under the “cover” of the caldera there is one huge magma bubble over 8000 m deep, but more recently, scientists have discovered a much larger reservoir under the upper bubble, 4.4 times larger than the first. The recharge of the volcano is provided by a large plume (a hot flow of the mantle with a temperature of 1600 ° C), part of which, closer to the surface, melts into magma and contributes to the appearance of geysers and gas outbursts.

Over the past 2.1 million years, Yellowstone volcano has erupted 3 times:

  1. The Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago was a continental-scale disaster, during which more than 160 km³ of rocks were thrown out. The stones rose to a height of about 50 km, and volcanic ash covered a fourth of the continent.
  2. The eruption of the volcano “Mesa Falls” 1.3 million years ago, as a result of which 280 km³ of rocks were ejected.
  3. The eruption “Lava Creek” 640 thousand years ago, which formed a huge caldera with a circumference of about 150 km.

Yellowstone National Park and Park Hiking

Yellowstone National Park is an amazingly beautiful place, local coniferous forests, caves, canyons, beautiful waterfalls, rivers, lakes, geysers, all this is literally mesmerizing.

According to many tourists, the real pearl of the park is the lake of the same name, a feature of which is its location. This is one of the highest mountain lakes in the world, as it is located at an altitude of 2135 meters above sea level.

Yellowstone Park has a special structure, as it is located on a plateau, and due to the presence of mountain ranges along the perimeter, a special microclimate is created here. Since through rather high mountains, on average 2500 meters above sea level, cold winds, and indeed winds in general, cannot roam much on the surface of the park.

The park itself is also located quite high – 2400 meters above sea level. The highest point in the park is Mount Eagle Peak, which is 3462 meters high. The plateau itself was formed by numerous and constant volcanic eruptions. Each eruption was accompanied by the release of lava, it collapsed over time, underwent erosion and a forest grew on its surface.

What lies behind the “breath” of Yellowstone Park

In addition to a beautiful lake, beautiful landscapes, there are a large number of hot geysers and springs in Yellowstone Park. Also here is the largest geyser called Excelsior. From time to time, steam and a column of boiling water rush up from the ground with great noise, and rises to about a height of hundreds of meters. Steam rises even higher, about 300 meters.

Moreover, the appearance of a water column and a column of boiling water occurs quite unexpectedly, and a sudden cessation of the release also occurs. Another geyser, the Old Faithful, is also very popular. It has its own peculiarity – the geyser is very punctual, every 65 minutes it throws a stream of hot water into the air, which rises to a height of 50 meters. At the Old Faithful, the eruption of water is quite long and takes five minutes, after which everything stops and resumes again after 65 minutes.

There is a wide variety of flora and fauna on the territory of Yellowstone Park. Here you can meet many representatives of the animal world: several species of bears, deer, moose, bison, lynx, wolves and many other four-legged animals roam the park.

In the numerous rivers and lakes of the park, there are about 20 species of fish, even some are rare. There are a very large number of representatives of the feathered world – there are about 300 species of birds in the park, most of them breed chicks here in the warm season.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Yellowstone National Park attracts a huge number of tourists to its territory every year. Despite the fact that it is forbidden to hunt here, and also in some periods there is a restriction on fishing, there is no end to those wishing to visit this place.


This is understandable, since the local infrastructure is literally “sharpened” for tourist flows. Tourists are offered various tours, varying in complexity, length of stay, mode of travel, etc.

The most popular is the tourist route, the duration of which is from three to 5 days. During all this time, tourists are offered to see various parts of the national park, introducing them at the same time to representatives of flora, fauna, natural attractions. Without fail, each tour includes a visit to all the main attractions of Yellowstone National Park, from the Mammoth Terraces to the supervolcano.


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