Nobody Asked

What If Yellowstone's Supervolcano Erupted?

Episode Summary

Join Kyler as he explores what would happen if Yellowstone's Supervolcano were to erupt. Let's just say, the results wouldn't be pretty.

Episode Notes

Yellowstone National Park is home to abundant wildlife and vegetation, but one day it could all be destroyed, along with many cities in the United States. While this apocalyptic disaster isn't forecast to happen for quite some time, it still doesn't hurt to explore the impacts it would have.

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Sources that made this episode possible:

Fish, T. (2019, July 30). Yellowstone volcano: USGS reveals what would happen if Yellowstone volcano erupted. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1159546/yellowstone-volcano-eruption-usgs-what-would-happen-yellowstone-erupts-super-volcano

Plumer, B. (2014, December 15). What would happen if the Yellowstone supervolcano actually erupted? Retrieved August 6, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/2014/9/5/6108169/yellowstone-supervolcano-eruption

Ramsey, L. (2018, May 04). A deadly supervolcano lies under Yellowstone - here's what would happen if it erupted. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from https://www.businessinsider.com/what-would-happen-if-yellowstone-supervolcano-erupted-2017-6

Episode Transcription

Oh, hello! Welcome to this week’s episode of Nobody Asked, I’m Kyler Johnson, and today we’re going to investigate what would happen if Yellowstone’s Super Volcano erupted.
 
For those who don’t know, Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a huge lake full of blazing hot magma that goes as deep as five miles in some spots. The park boasts a lot of features! Like the fact it’s home to many geysers We’re not just talking a few dozen, we’re talking upwards of 500. The biggest is the Steamboat Geyser, which can shoot hot steam as high as 300 feet. As tall as the Statue of Liberty!
 
These geysers help the huge magma lake below Yellowstone vent and relieve pressure because let’s be honest; if you’ve got all that hot stuff going on down there, I bet the pressure is INSANE.
 
Anyway, the last time the Yellowstone’s supervolcano erupted was over 664,000 years ago. There have been three eruptions of the supervolcano, some date as far back as over 2 million years ago. Every one of these eruptions has spewed out so much material with such a great force that it’s left, what scientists call a caldera, which is a big cauldron-like crater in the Earth.
 
If the supervolcano were to erupt today, it’s safe to say another caldera would likely form. According to the USGS, “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.”
 
Ash would be the biggest threat from the eruption. Every part of the United States, parts of southern Canada, northern Mexico would likely see ash. However, the closer you get to the eruption, the deeper the ash will be.
 
This much ash would make things seem apocalyptic. Day would likely turn to evening or night. Blue skies would turn dark, grey, and look ominous.
 
Parts of Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Idaho could see as much as 4 to 6 inches of ash.
 
Places like Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nevada could see ash as deep as 2 inches. This much ash would be apocalyptic.
 
This much ash will kill vegetation, pollute water supplies, kill fish/wildlife, it can cause roof collapses on buildings, and above-ground power poles will be heavily damaged. Roads will even be impassible. The weeks and months after the eruption, resources will become scarce, and a lot of these places will become uninhabitable.
 
The southern and eastern United States will see way less ash, and the impacts will not be as great, but will still be significant.
 
Falling ash wouldn’t be the only concern, though! The eruption will release massive amounts of sulfur dioxide.
 
This gas will absorb heat and reflect sunlight. Leading to a huge drop in global temperatures that could last years. This will change rainfall and temperatures patterns, which could cause drought in areas that don’t typically see it and flooding in areas that typically stay drier.
 
Contrary to what many believe, the Yellowstone eruption will not cause all life on Earth to cease. A few hundred, maybe even thousands, will lose their lives, but it won’t kill all 8 billion of us.
 
Sorry Mother Nature, it’s going to take a lot more than that to get rid of us. It should also be noted that the National Park Service in coordination with the USGS is constantly, and I mean constantly monitoring this area for any unusual activity.
 
If an eruption was coming, we’d likely know weeks in advance, allowing for evacuations.
 
I for one am absolutely terrified that this could actually happen, but the odds, right now are very low. Some scientists say that Yellowstone may never erupt again, which is completely fine by me!