Scientists have long been predicting the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. New calculations show that if it does happen, the entire US will become covered in ash. This would destroy a significant portion of farmland, leading to famine and the doom of a considerable chunk of Earth's population, say experts.
Canadian scientists, led by geologist Larry Mustin, have used Ash 3D modeling software which can integrate many atmospheric phenomena to allow them to calculate the potential consequences of the supervolcano's eruption.
The geologists have let the technology paint a global picture after an eruption. They have analyzed a total of 3 scenarios, with 3 different durations of the eruptions - 3 days, a week and a month. All possible changes in wind direction were accounted for as well.
The calculations have allowed scientists to determine not only the turbulence of an initial eruption, but also updrafts from the volcano. The results indicate that in each of the scenarios, volcanic ash will inevitably blanket all of the US. San Francisco will be hit hardest, with over 1 3/4″ (4.4 cm) of ash raining down on the city. Even in the farthest regions of US coastal areas, the layer of ash will reach up to 3/32" (3 mm).
The Yellowstone volcanic caldera was discovered in 1960s using satellite images. It is located in the northwest part of the state of Wyoming and takes up a large part of the National Park. Underneath the crater lies an enormous bubble of magma. The volcano has erupted a total of 3 times so far, the most intense was the 1st. After the 3rd eruption, the walls of the crater collapsed and formed the caldera.
Warnings have been coming out periodically for years that the volcano would soon erupt. Worries were the most well-founded last year when 60 light quakes were recorded in the park. There is also a distraught migration of buffalo, which is also considered a sign that the worst is yet to come.
Geologists have calculated that the chance of Yellowstone erupting today is 0.00014%. This number they've come up with based on the intervals of time between its eruptions. However, they are categorical that this chance is the same as it has been for the past 100 years but the media simply cause excessive turmoil amongst the population.