Home Geology The Super-Eruptions Of Yellowstone’s Past

The Super-Eruptions Of Yellowstone’s Past

Could the Yellowstone super-volcano erupt once again? Let's hope not, because past explosions prove the volcano was no slouch.

Did you know that the United States is home to super-volcanoes? The Yellowstone Caldera, for example, is a still-active volcanic structure of epic portions, measuring some 34 by 45 miles. Not only that, but the Yellowstone Caldera is still active, and could potentially erupt in the future. If any such eruption is like the massive eruptions that occurred millions of years ago, we might find ourselves in some serious trouble.

The Yellowstone Caldera is located in Idaho and is one of the largest still active volcanic structures on Earth. Scientists have long wondered exactly how powerful the super-volcano was (and is). Now, recently uncovered data has revealed that super-eruptions which occurred between 8 to 12 million years ago were far, far stronger than originally theorized.

Scientists came to this conclusion after realizing that the actual number of eruptions that occurred was actually only half as many as previously thought. This means that the actual eruptions themselves must have been far more powerful than previously theorized. Fewer eruptions ejecting the same amount of material and causing the same drastic changes in the Earth, mean that the individual eruptions would have to be far more powerful.

In fact, scientists now believe that the Castleford Crossing eruption, which occurred roughly 8.1 million years ago, may actually have been the most powerful eruption in the volcanoes history. Previously, the eruption was not suspected of being so powerful.

Super-volcano Could Explode Again

Volcanic eruptions have wiped out civilizations, and if the Yellowstone Supervolcano experiences another massive eruption, it could pose a threat to the global ecosystem. The last eruption occurred roughly 640,000 years ago, before the emergence of modern human civilizations. Evidence suggests that eruptions occur roughly every 600,000 to 700,000 years.

The eruptions occur after pressure builds up, and eventually the crust of the earth is no longer able to withstand the tremendous amount of force. Besides devastating nearby areas with hot magma, the eruption would release gases and dust into the air, which could change sunlight and weather patterns.

So could an eruption occur? For now scientists are unable to rule the possibility out.