Thursday, October 12, 2017

An Ominious Beauty



Years ago, yours truly went to Yellowstone and was stunned at how truly beautiful the national park was with boiling lakes containing the colors of the rainbow combined with blue sky that almost hurts the eyes to look at. At the time, there was no sense of fear that the underlying cause of all this beauty could wake up and transform 1/2 of the US into an ash pile 2500 times greater than the Mt. St Helen's eruption or incinerate goodly parts of Wyoming, Utah and Montana in a NY minute until now.

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 2,500 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

Mt St. Helens' crater  after the eruption

Seen below is the size of the Yellowstone super volcano.

An ominous beauty indeed.

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