The Yellowstone national park provides a home to over 200 species of mammals, more than 300 species of birds, 16 species of fish, 6 species of reptiles, and 4 species of amphibians. This biodiverse ecosystem is a protected area where endangered and rare species can thrive. This park is one of the few intact, large ecosystems that remain in the northern temperate zone of the earth. What will happen when the volcano lying underneath this beloved park erupts?
The Yellowstone Park has intrigued the minds of many, and the discovery that it lies on top of an active supervolcano has caught the attention of many more. A supervolcano is thousands of times more powerful than a regular volcano and can cause changes across the entire globe. Although it is unlikely that the volcano will erupt in the next hundred years, how can we be sure? On September 15, 2018, a spring from “a geyser” burst back to life for the first time in 60 years. The eruption not only expelled rocks and boiling water but also material that had fallen or been thrown in the geyser. The geyser, as a result, has entered a series of water eruptions but these eruptions have no connections to any future volcanic activity.
The Yellowstone volcano has not had an active eruption for 664,000 years, but scientists still consider it worthy of constant monitoring since the volcano erupts every 600,000 to 800,000 years. If the volcano erupted, the seismic activity would be felt throughout Yellowstone Park and earthquakes would take weeks to break the rocks above the magma. Once the eruption reaches the volcano it would expel materials up to 240 cubic miles away, but lava would not be the main problem. Volcanic ash would be spread throughout the entire United States.
The eruption of the Yellowstone volcano would have consequences on the entire globe. Volcanic eruptions can emit sulfur aerosols which reflect sunlight into the atmosphere, which, as a result, can cool the climate. Nonetheless, the apocalypse is not among us yet; the odds of Yellowstone erupting are of 0.00014%.