What will happen if the volcano under Yellowstone erupts? Geothermal activity at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. (Thinkstock)
What will happen if the volcano under Yellowstone erupts?
Lexile

You asked us, "What will happen if the volcano under Yellowstone erupts?"
 
Bubbling just a few miles below the surface of Yellowstone National Park is one of the world's largest active volcanic systems.
 
Over the last 2 million years or so, it has erupted 3 times in catastrophic explosions, spewing lava and hurtling ash and gases thousands of miles away.
 
So, what's the likelihood of that kind of super eruption happening again anytime soon?
 
Um, not high. Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey put it at about 1 in 730,000.
 
What's much more likely is a smaller, less explosive event and sure, the lava would still destroy everything in its path, but it'd be relatively slow moving. And nothing you couldn't outrun.
 
Oh, no - lava!
 
But what if Yellowstone super erupted?
 
Well, the full impact is hard to predict, but it's pretty safe to say anything or anyone nearby would be done for. In a fiery, doomsday kind of way.
 
Don't count yourself lucky if you're farther out, though. That ash cloud could travel huge distances, killing crops along the way, disrupting transportation systems, contaminating water supplies...you name it.
 
And if ash and sulfuric gases make it into the atmosphere, a global volcanic winter could be triggered, causing cooler temperatures and all kinds of horrible snowball effects.
 
But don't worry, because like I said, it's much more likely we'll be outrunning lava.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it difficult to know for sure what would happen if there was a super eruption?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (202)
  • nickh-ver
    11/12/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    It's scary how much damage could do even though I'm out of the the range of the lava but the ash cold of ash would kill me is a scary thought. Also the whole world would be effected shows you the magnitude of this event and how bad it would be.

  • carsonk-2-bar
    11/12/2015 - 07:07 p.m.

    Its difficult to know for sure what would happen if there was a super eruption because its a 1 in 730,000 chance it would explode. "Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey put it at about 1 in 730,000." This article is interesting because if the bolcano did explode then we would see all the effects of it. This article did not surprise me because I already knew about this and how it is very unlikely it will explode.

  • jilliand-3-bar
    11/12/2015 - 07:21 p.m.

    It is difficult to know what will happen in a super eruption because they are unpredictable we have never had one. In the text it says, "That ash cloud could travel huge distances, killing crops along the way, disrupting transportation systems, contaminating water supplies, you name it..." We have not had any of these problems before in Yellowstone so our predictions may not be exactly like the outcome. I thought that this article was interesting because I didn't think that we could outrun lava.

  • carlosp-6-bar
    11/12/2015 - 07:25 p.m.

    It is difficult to know that the things they said in the article above would be for sure in a super eruption because in paragraph four it states that what is the likely hood of it to erupt and in paragraph five it states "Um, not high. Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey put it at about 1 in 730,000" and thats really unlikely to actually happen.
    I think this is a good article because i thought that it would erupt any moment and that we would all die but it said that it is 1 in 730,000 of a a chance it would actually happen. And it made me stop worrying.

  • jennac-orv
    11/12/2015 - 07:36 p.m.

    It's difficult to tell exactly what could happen because there are so many possible things. And it's only erupted 3 times in the last 2 million years. So really you cant tell when it will or what will happen.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    11/12/2015 - 08:09 p.m.

    It is difficult to know for sure what would happen if there was a super eruption because there have been a very small amount of super eruptions. Because of the fact that "Over the last 2 million years or so, it has erupted 3 times in catastrophic explosions, spewing lava and hurtling ash and gases thousands of miles away."This quote tells us how it was around two million years ago, and we do not know if that is accurate anymore because tectonic plates are always changing. I found this article interesting because I have been to Yellowstone. One thing I am wondering is how do scientists know this about Super explosions from 2 million years ago, was there written proof, or can they tell in the soil?

  • lucasd-3-bar
    11/12/2015 - 09:50 p.m.

    It is difficult to know what would happen during a super eruption because it rarely occurs and no one knows from the previous times. Line 9 states it would be hard to predict. This is an interesting article, and it is scary what a volcano like that can do!

  • taylorl-3-bar
    11/12/2015 - 10:58 p.m.

    It's difficult to know what would happen In a super eruption because we would never know it was coming and the ash clouds can travel long distances so we can tell by raining ash from the sky. I chose this article because it looked interesting to know about. I actually agree with this article because it said in paragraph six, that it would move very slowly, the lava.

  • dianner-2-bar
    11/12/2015 - 11:10 p.m.

    It is difficult to know for sure what would happen if there was a super eruptions because some eruptions are very different from other.The article was very interesting because it said that you can overrun and volcano the lava.But it can still burn everything in its path.

  • madelinew-1-bar
    11/12/2015 - 11:35 p.m.

    It is difficult to tell when and how a huge eruption will happen because the earth is unpredictable in many ways. We could think that there'll be a small eruption like in paragraph 6 but instead get a super eruption like in paragraph 7.

    This article was very interesting while at the same time terrifying. Just imagining how an eruption like that could occur is just unbelievable.

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