Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yellowstone Volcano Hazards

The Yellowstone Volcano lies on National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in the US. Its caldera is 90 km in diameter and the history says the eruptions have occurred every 600,000 years, although the last eruption was registered 640,000 years ago. Due to the pressure of magma, scientists have been analyzing the soil behavior and they have noticed it swells from 5 to 7 cm every year. However, this year they found out the volcano has extraordinarily swollen over 25 cm, which means much more magma pressure. Scientists say this is a case they have never seen before and they don’t know if it’s already a pre-eruption.

In their point of view, a tremendous disaster would happen in case the Yellowstone wakes up. As a matter of fact, it would be the same as a billion nuclear bombs explosion. Besides that, the eruption would last 5 days. Three months after, clouds of volcanic dust would cover North Hemisphere turning down the temperature to -30ºC. Consequently, at the same time, in South Hemisphere the weather would be very dry, with the temperature going to 50ºC. Immediately after the eruption, a mortal and poisonous gas, called piroplastic as hot as 900ºC would spread incinerating everything, reaching an area of 1900 km and devastating Kansas, Nebraska, Livingstone, etc. Also, an earthquake of 8.9 degrees in Richter scale would be provoking a giant ground wave that would reach the ocean, causing a terrible tsunami. I really believe that the tsunami would havoc the coast areas of Europe, Central America, South America and Asia, with its 55 meters waves.

It´s important to clarify that there are vocalnos and super volcanos. The Yellowstone is considered the second of the list, for its magnitude. A volcanic explosion kills plants and animals. On the other hand, an eruption from a super volcano can extinguish species, because of changes on the weather. There is not any recent register of these super eruptions in human history, but geologists are constantly analyzing the way they could act. According to researchers, the last super eruption occurred from the super volcano Toba, in Indonesia, 74,000 years ago. It almost extinguished the human specie on earth, by reducing the population to a few thousands of people.

This would lead me to conclude that there isn’t much to do to minimize the effects from a hazardous devastation in case the Yellowstone wakes up some day. Let’s put things on the perspective that all we have to do is managing with the consequences the best way we can. Scientists assume that the worst is for those ones who live in a 600 miles straight line from east to west sides to the volcano. They will certainly die. Changes on the weather will worsen global warming situation, making the temperature unbearable. Well, I do believe that what we have to do now is trying not to panic, also trying to believe those more optimistic geologists who said that the eruptions are in their “just initial stages” and hope that these initial last for thousands and thousands or millions of years…