The volcano that could destroy America


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The volcano that could destroy America

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Apr 3, 2010, 4:29pm

Have just obtained a copy of 'Super Volcano' (2007) by Greg Breining. Perhaps this is one of those potential catastrophes for which no amount of preparation would be adequate. After all, if it goes, do we really think that the San Andreas Fault System is going to remain quiescent? A disaster of this magnitude would change the course of history, and perhaps reduce the U.S. to Second World Status, leaving the Chinese as the only superpower. At worst it could bring about a major Extinction of life on Earth. It would not be millions of people starving to death, but billions. People would survive of course, but the death of five billion or more people would set our quality of life back by centuries.

Edited: Apr 3, 2010, 4:55pm

>1 JimThomson:


I had to check my library to make sure that you weren't talking about the book I have.

I own Supervolcano, (2007) by John Savino and Marie D. Jones.

Also about Yellowstone, but volcanoes like Toba as well.

(Edited to correct my typing)

Apr 3, 2010, 8:45pm

I read an article about Yellowstone recently in some popular science magazine (Nat. Geographic, Scientific American or Discover most likely) that had the same scary message. Had some great pictures. One of those really cool geologic catastrophes you hope you never get to see happen...

Apr 8, 2010, 3:48pm

I've never really bought the absolute catastrophic scenarios in the recent interest in Super volcanoes. For one they won't wipe life off even this contient much less drastically effect life throughout the planet. The geologica record atests that life wasn't much presauded one direction or the other in the last event. Nor do I buy the extreme loss of human lives. With our sesmic netowrk around yellowstone and the nature of explosive volcanoes, means we would have at least some foreknowledge of the coming event and possible evacuate a large portion of the affected population.The dramatic shifts in climates after such an event would be the largest and cruelest killer.

That being said I still find it worth while to explore the econmic and secondary impacts of such an event. Is it just me and my sickness if that Yellowstone were to go that I'd be torn with wanting front row seats or actually living through it.

Apr 8, 2010, 7:23pm

Does Breining give any sense of like timing?

from wikipedia:
1. "Within the past 17 million years, 142 or more caldera-forming eruptions have occurred from the Yellowstone hotspot ."

That's one roughly every 100,000 years

2. "the Yellowstone Supervolcano is the volcanic field which produced the latest three supereruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot. The three super eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago"

Or, the last three have occurred every 700,000 years.

So, this might mean we're due for one somewhere within the next 100,000 years.

If it does happen during our life time, unlike stretch, I'd be satisfied with living and some satellite photos... :)

Edited: Apr 8, 2010, 8:52pm

I've just read but not keeping Super Volcanoes, either version. I'm waiting for a more complete reference on the really large igneous events of Earth of which explosive volcanoes are a subset. An earlier book, focused on the USA's more than fair share of past disasters, is Agents of Chaos: Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Other Natural Disasters by Stephen L. Harris. For a visual take on Yellowstone, I invite ya'all into a Earthscapes gallery on flickr(dot)com under my handle, subarcticmike.

postscript: What I would r-e-a-l-l-y like to see is a comprehensive correlated geology-based history of Earth to provide perspective for environmentalists, ecologists and the public. Seems to be individuals trying to provide such rather than the UN, governments or universities. For example, the recent Islands in the Cosmos: the Evolution of Life on Land by paleontologist Dale A. Russell provides much food for thought. There has been a plethora of extinctions on every kind of scale imaginable during the 600 million year march of life. Russell's conclusion is that life on Earth has always taken two steps forward in biodiversity for every step back...

Apr 8, 2010, 11:59pm

Stretch - One of my profs used to refer to Pliny the elder as the first geological martyr - killed checking out the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Don't follow his example!

Edited: Apr 9, 2010, 12:09pm

I should clarify by front row seats I mean 200 to 300 miles away to the northwest. I'm young and stupid but not crazy.

Apr 9, 2010, 9:17am

20-30 miles away....

you do realize that you'd still be well with in the kill zone right? My impression was it would have a several hundred mile radius kill zone. This isn't a little burp like Mt. St. Helens. We'd could have ash falling all the way over here in MN.

Apr 9, 2010, 12:11pm

Yes you are correct, it has an estimated kill radius of some 200 miles. I meant 200 to 300 but I'm really big on typos, there almost as bad as my spelling.

Apr 27, 2012, 9:21am

I think those of you (not me, I'm across the Atlantic) within the kill zone will be the lucky ones - the rest of us will be coping with acid rain, darkness at midday, and general armageddon.....If it really goes as a superplume can, then you need to look at things like the Deccan Traps in India - kilometres deep lava flows that covered thousands of square miles and, since they - sort of - coincided with the meteor strike at the KT boundary, had a lot to do with the mass extinction event.....Happy days! Best not to think about it.....