When Yellowstone Pops

The topic has been everywhere the last few years: when is Yellowstone’s super volcano going to explode? So it is our turn to cover the topic, and make it as clear and as blunt as possible from the available information.

No one knows.

Yellowstone sits upon an enormous magma chamber that has exploded three times before, with two of them being the most violent natural explosions in the history of the planet based on known geological surveys – and it happens roughly every 600,000 years. The problem is, it has been about 600,000 years since the last time it let loose.

The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff explosion that happened about 2.1 million years ago, which created the current 30 square mile caldera basin in Yellowstone, deposited 600 cubic miles of material across an area that stretches from Baja California to the Mississippi river. While the subsequent two eruptions have been decreasing in volatility – they are still nothing to shake a stick at.

So what are we looking at? It is anyone’s guess right now, but it is estimated that a area of roughly 500 square miles around the eruption point could be blanketed with up to four inches of ash, and the atmosphere would be pumped full of sulfur dioxide that could lead to acid rain and global cooling as it blots out the sun. While this is not something that would cause the world to end, it would certainly pose problems for cops and extending the length of winter.

How much do we have to worry? Right now the odds are 1 in 730,000 according to the US Geological Survey, and estimates say it is nothing to worry about in the next 1000 years. So, do not fret.

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