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Yellowstone Super volcano: A future

1. Basic Facts:

Yellowstone Volcano is in Wyoming, U.S.

Yellowstone sits on a hot spot, an area of volcanic activity on a continental
plate. (OHanlon, Larry 2009)
Yellowstone is a geologically active area, with geysers, hot springs, and mud
pots.(United States Geological Survey 2008)
There are frequent earthquakes in the area, up to 20 a day. (United States
Geological Survey 2008)

2. Super Volcanoes:

Yellowstone is a super volcano:

- Super volcanoes are volcanoes that have previously erupted with a
magnitude of eight on the Volcanic Explosivity Scale. (United States
Geological Survey 2009)
Other super volcanoes are located in New Zealand, Indonesia, and another in
California, U.S.A. (Bindeman, Ilya 2006)

3. Size of Yellowstone:

The magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is 40-80 kilometres wide. (United

States Geological Survey 2008)
The caldera is 1,500 square miles and was created by the previous three
major eruptions. (Bindeman, Ilya 2006)

4. Previous Eruptions:

The previous eruptions of Yellowstone have been very destructive

There has been 3 major eruptions (United States Geological Survey 2009)
(Lowenstern, Jacob 2005)
- 2.1 million years ago
- 1.3 million years ago
- 640,000 years ago
The biggest eruption, 2.1million years ago spewed debris over 2,500 cubic
kilometres. (Lowenstern, Jacob 2005)

5. Future eruptions?:

It is likely that Yellowstone will erupt again

The estimated period between eruptions is 700,000 years (Lowenstern, Jacob
If the last eruption was 640,000 years ago, this means an eruption could be
due in the next 90,000 years. (Bindeman, Ilya 2006)

6. Effects of future eruption:

If Yellowstone erupted again the damage could be cataclysmic.

They estimate this because of the size of the calderas and the previous
It would devastate most of the surrounding areas.

7. Effects of eruption: Locally

Yellowstone national park and surrounding communities obliterated.

(OHanlon, Larry 2009)
Ash blankets sweep from pacific coast to the United States Midwest.
(OHanlon, Larry 2009)
Death toll could be in the millions. (OHanlon, Larry 2009)

8. Effects: globally:

Ash swept into upper atmosphere winds would spread world wide. (OHanlon,
Larry 2009) (Bindeman, Ilya 2006)
Gases released would mix with atmosphere to deplete ozone layer. (OHanlon,
Larry 2009)
Volcanic winter (Lowenstern, Jacob 2006)
- gases released interacting with atmosphere to produce sulphuric
acid- blocking the sun.
- Drop in global temperatures.

9. Summary:

Yellowstone is a super volcano that has been very destructive in the past.
It is located in a geologically active area.
Has the ability to erupt again, and cause widespread destruction.
Scientists can only guess when the eruption will occur.

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Bindeman, I. (2006). The secrets of supervolcanoes. Scientific American, 294(6),

36-43. Retrieved from
direct=true&db=afh&AN=20747958&site=ehost-live">The Secrets of
Lowenstern, J. (2005). Truth fiction and everything in between at yellowstone.
Geotimes, 6, November/10. Retrieved from
Lowenstern, J., Smith, R., & Hill, D. (2006). Monitoring super-volcanoes:
Geophysical and geochemical signals at yellowstone and other large caldera
systems. Philisophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical,
Physical, and Engineering Sciences, 364, 2055-2072.
Lownstern, J., & Hurwitz, S. (2008). Monitoring a supervolcano in repose: Heat
and volitile flux at the yellowstone caldera. Elements, 4, 35-40.