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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2005 :  05:02:29  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Could the world be turned into an Herculaneum writ large?

I seem to remember doing a brief writing upon Yellowstone some years ago -- don't recall if it was here or elsewhere. The point was that this most remarkable of national parks is nothing but a giant caldera and that it was a little past due for an eruption, the results of which would make all other, volcanic events on record look like bean farts in the comparison.

The font of the following article is so small that I had to c&p it into a Word documnet to read it, but it was well worth the trouble:
quote:
When the supervolcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming finally awakes from its 640,000-year slumber, it will spew out enough ash and magma to change the world as we know it. This is the prediction of scientists who have calculated that the global risk posed by a supervolcanic eruption somewhere in the world is between five and ten times greater than the probability of being struck by a giant asteroid.

But it is the huge lake of molten magma lying dormant under the lush landscape of Yellowstone that is causing the greatest concern to vulcanologists studying the special threat posed by supervolcanoes.

Earth scientists commissioned by the Geological Society of London have calculated that there may be several super-eruptions big enough to cause a global disaster every 100,000 years - whereas an asteroid larger than 1km (0.62 miles) in diameter would be expected to hit the Earth once in about 600,000 years.

Supervolcanoes may not look much - most do not even have the traditional cone of a Vesuvius or a Mount St Helens - but their potential for destruction is many times greater than a traditional volcanic eruption.

A super-eruption at Yellowstone would be far more devastating for the world than the eruptions at Tambora in 1815, Krakatoa in 1883 and Pinatubo in 1991 which all caused global climate disturbances for several years after the event. Super-eruptions are hundreds of times larger than the biggest volcanic explosions of recorded history and their effects on the global climate are much more severe, said Professor Stephen Self, a vulcanologist at the Open University.

The good folks over at Rapture Ready and elsewhare should love this one, if of course, they'll pull their heads out of the sand long enough to read it.

If these calculations are correct, and I see little reason to doubt them, we just might go out with both a bang and a whimper.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2005 :  05:57:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Well maybe the east half of the US would get wasted, but that doesnt mean the EotW.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Trish
SFN Addict

USA
2102 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2005 :  20:35:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Trish a Private Message
Yeah, that was on here filthy. Yeah, it's me, I seem to be back.

...no one has ever found a 4.5 billion year old stone artifact (at the right geological stratum) with the words "Made by God."
No Sense of Obligation by Matt Young

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying and vile!"
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

They (Women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
LtGen Thomas Holcomb, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1943
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2005 :  21:01:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Trish

Yeah, that was on here filthy. Yeah, it's me, I seem to be back.

Well dammit, stick around for a while!! That way we won't get tired of welcoming you back, 'cause we miss you when you're gone.

Yeah, I kinda thought it might have been here. I published a variation of it in print as well (unpaid, as usual ).

I think that certainly the east would get wiped slick initally, but the west would also get it in spades through the back door, as it were. Remember, this caldera is some 50+ miles in diameter and the magma pool under it is vast. The eruption would defy belief, even if it is like what St. Helens is doing currently (relativly peaceful, if messy). Concievably, volcanic ash could cover the world. And the weather patterns would be affected for a considerable time, perhaps years -- even decades -- or longer? Agriculture as we pratice it today would be in the dumper. In short, we, Christians and Muslims, Republicans and Democrats, rich man, poor man, would all become truly equal. Equally screwed, and no Rapture in sight.

Isn't being a gore-crow fun?


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2005 :  02:25:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
If they are just figuring out Yellowstone is one big caldera they're a bit behind the times. This thread is on over at the BABB as well. Here's my post and one follow up post worth noting.

Yellowstone Caldera 'breathes' and is clearly still alive.
quote:
In the 1970s, scientists discovered that there had been over two feet of vertical uplift in the caldera since 1923, and began leveling surveys to accurately measure recent uplift. During the past ten years scientists have been applying new satellite-based surveying techniques, including GPS and radar measurements, for an increased understanding of the slow up and down ground movements of the Yellowstone caldera above the subterranean magma and hydrothermal systems.
On the other hand, I think we'll get a bit of warning. Mt St Helens was bulging at a rate of 10 FEET A DAY just before she blew.

And a note on a current but longstanding bulge:
quote:
We have absolutely no concern that the so-called "bulge" could be associated with a volcanic eruption. If there is any hazard it would be hydrothermal explosions. These could be dangerous to nearby buildings, but would not have a regional effect. Essentially, these are steam explosions of the hot water in the geothermal system.
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2005 :  02:55:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message
When Mt. St Helens erupted it was impressive, but there were other eruptions in prehistoric times, (not long ago from a geological point-of-view,) that blew up ash clouds which covered just about all of North America. Could happen again someday.

Would there be geologic "signs and portents" if Yellowstone was going to blow? Maybe. John Muir noticed that before earthquakes, the animals leave - then the native Americans leave, (they're watching the animals.) Maybe more steam venting than usual from "Old Faithful" or lots of small earthquakes. Or maybe we'll notice a gradual overall swelling over a large region of many miles. Then again, maybe nothing, then: "Boom!"

Diversity, independence, innovation and imagination are progressive concepts ultimately alien to the conservative mind.

"TAX AND SPEND" IS GOOD! (TAX: Wealthy corporations who won't go poor even after taxes. SPEND: On public works programs, education, the environment, improvements.)
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2005 :  04:34:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

If they are just figuring out Yellowstone is one big caldera they're a bit behind the times. This thread is on over at the BABB as well. Here's my post and one follow up post worth noting.

Yellowstone Caldera 'breathes' and is clearly still alive.
quote:
In the 1970s, scientists discovered that there had been over two feet of vertical uplift in the caldera since 1923, and began leveling surveys to accurately measure recent uplift. During the past ten years scientists have been applying new satellite-based surveying techniques, including GPS and radar measurements, for an increased understanding of the slow up and down ground movements of the Yellowstone caldera above the subterranean magma and hydrothermal systems.
On the other hand, I think we'll get a bit of warning. Mt St Helens was bulging at a rate of 10 FEET A DAY just before she blew.

And a note on a current but longstanding bulge:
quote:
We have absolutely no concern that the so-called "bulge" could be associated with a volcanic eruption. If there is any hazard it would be hydrothermal explosions. These could be dangerous to nearby buildings, but would not have a regional effect. Essentially, these are steam explosions of the hot water in the geothermal system.


Old news, new article, actually -- I've been sort of half-assed following Yellowstone volcanism for a long time.

I do not think there are any garentees that a genuine eruption would be a mere hydrothermal event. It took a great deal of unimaginable violence to creat a 50+ mile caldera.

As to a warning, I'm sure there'd be plenty. But even so, what's to do? If Yellowstone roars or smolders, or both, there's no crash crew in existance that could stifle it.

And the thought occurs; just because at 50+ miles diameter the caldera is huge does not mean that it couldn't get a lot bigger. Or not -- who would know until it happens?


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 04/16/2005 :  19:36:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Well, I finally caught a few minutes of the Discovery show mentioned in the article linked to by the OP. Some nifty stuff in there...

...but I live a couple thousand miles away.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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GeeMack
SFN Regular

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 04/16/2005 :  21:23:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GeeMack a Private Message
Having visited Yellowstone National Park quite a few times over the past several years I've been very intrigued with almost everything about the area, so I've done a bit of research on many aspects of this fascinating place. The "Supervolcano" show that has been on the Discovery Channel recently is quite interesting. Although much of it is presented as a sort of worst case scenario pre-enactment, there is a lot of good information included. You can find a current discussion about various questions raised in the show on this page at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. A link on that page will take you to a more thorough discussion of many of the issues here at the U. S. Geological Survey web site.

GeeMack
Edited by - GeeMack on 04/16/2005 21:33:51
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