Super Volcanos

By Abby Carlson, Andrew Verran, Kali Hentsch & Emily Knutson

What is a supervolcano?

A supervolcano is any volcano capable of producing a volcanic eruption with an ejecta volume greater than 1,000 km3. This is thousands of times larger than normal volcanic eruptions. Supervolcanoes can occur when magma in the mantle rises into the crust from a hotspot but is unable to break through the crust, and pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure.

Yellowstone Park Supervolcano

Not all super volcanoes have been found, but one of the largest is in Yellowstone Park, USA. Scientists searching for the caldera in the park could not see it because it was so huge - only when satellite images were taken did the scale of the caldera become apparent - the whole park, 85km by 45km, is one massive reservoir of magma. The idyll landscape of Yellowstone (below) could soon explode with devastating consequences.Scientist have discovered that the ground in Yellowstone if 74cm higher than in was in 1923 - indicating a massive swelling underneath the park. The reservoir is filling with magma at an alarming rate. The volcano erupts with a near-clockwork cycle of every 600,000 years. The last eruption was more than 640,000 years ago
Volcano under YellowStone - (Supervolcano Eruption Scenario) by FirstscienceTV

What would happen after the volcano erupts?

Once the plume rises high into the stratosphere, the released sulfuric gases would mix with the Earth’s water vapor, which National Geographic reports could launch the country and other parts of the globe into a “volcanic winter.”The spread of volcanic ash, rocks and gas would immediately cease any sort of air transportation in much of the world. Just take into account the traffic shutdown following the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. The relatively small explosion caused the closure of large swaths of European airspace, as well as a six-day travel ban in the impacted area.Those who do survive would be left with a big bill too. Doug Bausch, a senior scientist at FEMA, said that such a scenario would cause an estimated $3 trillion in damage for North America.

What would happen to humans after the eruption? Would anyone survive?

64,000 years ago, a super volcano made a mess of what is now the U.S. Of the current 50 states, 21 were covered with a layer of ash that in some areas was over twenty meters thick. Volcanic ash is worse than normal ash, it is made up of tiny pieces of rock. If it falls on your roof, your house can collapse under its weight. If it gets in contact with cars or airplanes, they will break down or crash. Even worse, if you inhale it, the ash will mix with the liquids in your lungs and form a cement-like substance. Over time you'll drown in concrete. Also, volcanoes spew out a deadly brew of toxic chemicals. There are sulphur our gases that can turn all rainfall into a blistering downpour of pure sulphuric acid for years to come. There are all kinds of chlorine-bearing compounds that break down enough of the ozone layer to turn the sun into a real killer. There's carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that not only nibbles at the ozone layer, but also causes long-term global warming. And last, there's soot. A super eruption will darken the sun, and gradually push the earth into nuclear winter. For many years, or even centuries, we will have to survive in darkness and cold. Plants and animals will not survive this eruption. Even the survivalist would starve to death.

Could this happen again?

A well known super volcano broods it's ugly plans right under beautiful Yellowstone park. On average, the Yellowstone super volcano erupts once every 600,000 years- but the last time it erupted was 640,000 years ago. Also, in parts of Yellowstone park, the ground has gone up seventy centimeters during the last century and one of the lakes has flooded.