Yellowstone: Immediate impact of eruption discussed by expert
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Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer explained the explosive impact a supereruption would have on its surrounding area. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Oppenheimer explained that if supervolcano, Yellowstone, would experience a supereruption it would massively impact the US.
The Yellowstone caldera was formed after three large erupts over the last three million years.
These were the Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago, the Mesa Falls eruption 1.3 million years ago and the Lava Creek eruption approximately 630,000 years ago.
The volcano is located below Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US, and the area is constantly monitored by the United States Geological Survey for signs that another major event could occur.
Mr Oppenheimer went into great detail about the devastating impact supereruptions have and why this would prove disastrous for the US if the supervolcano erupted.
Mr Oppenheimer said: “A supereruption is defined very roughly as an event that ejects hundreds or thousands of cubic kilometres of magma.
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“This mostly erupts explosively so there is a lot of fine dust that is lofted into the atmosphere.
“There are currents of ash that flows across the ground at very great speed.
“They do this at high temperatures and extend several tens of kilometres around the vent.
“So much magma erupts that a large crater will likely be formed and it can be tens of kilometres across.
“So there are very large earthquakes that are associated with that.”
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A supereruption at Yellowstone would no doubt cause devastation for tourists and those who live close-by to the area, the expert noted.
Mr Oppenheimer said: “In the immediate area, there is really a lot of devastation, where these hurricanes of ash known as pyroclastic flows travel.
“They would pretty much bury and burn anything that they come into contact with.
“There will be metres of the thickness of ash that falls out from the sky.”
The volcano expert explained that the devastation would eventually also impact the wider continent due to the sulphur spat out during eruptions.
He noted this could cause shifts in the climate in Northern America and across the world.
He continued: “Even on a continental scale there will be several centimetres of ash falling out 1,000km from the volcano.
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“So regional picture, depending on where we are in the world would be very devastating and would have long-lasting impacts.
“This is just because of the impact on communications and infrastructure, salting of reservoirs, all kinds of impacts on your basic functioning society.
“But the angle is that volcanoes change global climate not so much by the output of ash but the emission of sulphur.
“They are so small that they take months and years to rain out of the atmosphere.
“They are just the right size to reflect some sunlight back into space and that has a cooling effect on the Earth’s surface.”
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