Our Impending Doom

Marek Amirkhizi, Writer

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“This is a true story, it just hasn’t happened yet.” -SuperVolcano

MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRA/Getty Images/Science

We all know about Yellowstone National Park, home to many tourist attractions and many family vacations. Yellowstone gets around four to almost six million visitors a year. But what most of those visitors don’t know, they’re sitting on the world’s largest volcano that has an eruption so big, it could wipe out the United States. Experts have analyzed previous eruptions to gather more data on what we’re looking at now, the eruption of Mount St Helen in 1980 covered 60% of the US in volcanic ash. The ash came down like snow and lasted for months and it looked as if there was no end in sight. Volcanic ash is a deadly combination of Carbon Dioxide and Fluorine. If inhaled small or large amounts can cause major lung/breathing problems and even death from suffocation.

IMAGE: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

We’ve seen what a normal volcano can do to an entire country, what would something of an extremely higher magnitude cause? What about something 5,000km^3 its size? This volcano isn’t like the others, it doesn’t stand high and noticeable for everyone to see. It’s hidden under Yellowstone National Park where millions of footsteps by travelers and tourists are walking over their impending doom. The eruption could happen tomorrow or it could happen within the next hundred thousand years from now. But scientists say we experience a “supereruption” every six hundred thousand years, we are currently forty thousand years overdue. 

IMAGE: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

According to the Yellowstone National Park website, “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.”

 

Since humanity first stumbled upon Yellowstone, it has been an active volcanic region, with steaming springs, shooting geysers, and thousands of mostly undetectable earthquakes happening each year. This is normal. But if masses of magma begin stirring up beneath the ground, we’ll know something terrible is brewing.

 

Yellowstone has the potential to destroy us. But it won’t surprise us.