Apocalypse watch: Countdown to Nothing Significant Happening


In our neverending quest to bring you some sense of peace as the countdown to a completely irrelevant date continues, it’s useful to have some perspective.

So try not to worry about the Mayan calendar ending, which wasn’t ever really about an apocalypse at all, it just meant that had the Mayans survived, they’d all have to head down to the local mall to pick up another giant stone calendar from one of the seasonal kiosks that spring up this time of year.

Instead, think about the giant pools of molten rock that lurk just below the surface of the earth in some places threatening to violently explode and destroy continents, while plunging the rest of the world into a short ice age.

It’s hard not to stand in complete awe of everything the Earth has to offer when you’re in the middle of Yellowstone National Park.

But below the beauty of Yellowstone, is a volcano powerful enough devastate most of the United States and change the entire world.

“Yellowstone and other volcanoes around the world are called supervolcanoes and the reason is they’re like a super sized drink. It means it’s just big,” says Hank Hessler, a geologist at Yellowstone in the U.S. state of Wyoming.

The first Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption 2.1 million years ago was at least 25,000 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption. Two other Yellowstone super eruptions 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago, though smaller than the first one, would still dwarf any normal volcanic eruption.

With all of this heat just sitting, waiting beneath Yellowstone, what exactly would it look like if it were all to blow? Smith and other scientists all have scenarios and every one is bleak.

In Smith’s book, “Windows into the Earth,” he says, “Devastation would be complete and incomprehensible.” Before the super eruption, large earthquakes would likely swarm the surrounding areas until the huge blast that would erase Yellowstone completely off the map.

After the initial eruption, clouds of gas and rock would burn everything in its path with temperatures reaching to hundreds of degrees Celsius. Ashfall would cover the western United States and also enter the jet stream with the potential to cripple air transportation and threaten the world’s food supply.

There are some estimates that 87,000 people would die immediately.

You can imagine that with this kind of catastrophe on the line, the question Smith gets asked the most is, “When is going to blow next?”

The three Yellowstone super eruptions have occurred about 800,000 years apart, so people have started to speculate that another one is due.

Also, in 2004 Smith noticed that the ground had started to rise then lowered again in 2010. It was like the supervolcano was breathing.

So sleep soundly tonight, folks, thinking about breathing volcanoes, and rest easy knowing that the Mayan apocalypse probably won’t happen, because tomorrow you’ll very likely wake up to find Wyoming missing and your house collapsing under tons of volcanic ash.

Merry Christmas!

1 thought on “Apocalypse watch: Countdown to Nothing Significant Happening

  1. Pingback: 7 Days Until My Novel is Done…or the World Ends « Writing Is Hard Work

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