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This might not qualify as the end times

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Most people know Yellowstone is an old super volcano caldera and is likely to erupt again sometime in the next half million years. It could be any time actually and since we’ve never seen a full blown super volcano get cranking, we don’t know if they spend years or centuries getting revved up, or if they can just cut loose and blow.

As super volcanoes go, Yellowstone is a garden variety disaster in the turbulent natural history of Earth. As far as what a major eruption would do to a fragile, present day civilization, it would be the end of the United States as we know it and the onset of a global climate catastrophe of Biblical proportion. So I keep on top of it, but it looks like this latest round of earthquake clusters might not be the end of the world some alarmists and snake oil salesman are touting:

Daily Journal — “We know that a significant enough earthquake in the region has potential to alter geyser activity,” the spokesman said. “A strong enough earthquake, like the one that occurred out at Hebgen Lake in 1959, did change the interval of Old Faithful eruptions.”

That quake, a 7.3 to 7.5 on the Richter magnitude scale, caused nearly 300 features on the Yellowstone landscape to erupt, 160 of which had no previous record of geysers. Smith traced the three recent earthquake swarms to the Hebgen Lake quake. “These are a really related,” he said. “We think that much of the seismicity is still aftershocks from that event in 1959. It can go on for hundreds of years.”

Geophysicist describe Yellowstone as the surface manifestation of a deep mantle plume. Think of Hawaii, where the crust slowly moves over the hotspot leaving a chain of eroding islands behind, but with one big difference: the Yellowstone plume is capped by thicker continental bedrock and veneers of deposits. That means the pressure builds up and when it goes, it blows. Given enough time, a powerful mantle plume can tear a continent apart and send the pieces skidding in super slo-mo all over the globe.

Here’s a dramatic representation of how widespread the catastrophe could be. Based on the geological and climate record, it really would seem like the world was ending. But how a super volcano would work with a species armed to the teeth with super weapons is a twist that’s never been tested.

Comments

  1. Who Cares says

    Been wondering for a while now. What would happen if we’d decide to deliberately induce an eruption buy drilling into this chamber?

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