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The Yellowstone supervolcano located in Wyoming may look beautiful, but it packs a powerful punch. Researchers believe it has the potential for one of the deadliest eruptions in human history, although thankfully for our planet the supervolcano has remained dormant for more than 600,000 years. But some scientists fear that the sleeping giant could one day awake, and it will unleash global chaos as it does.
Pressure beneath Yellowstone mounts over hundreds of thousands of years.
Heat rising from deep beneath the volcano would begin to rise, and melt the molten rock just below the ground’s surface.
As the heat rises from the core, it would create a mixture of magma, rocks, vapour, carbon dioxide and other gases.
Eventually, a dome would build under the surface causing the ground to rise, becoming visible as it is about to blow.
If the volcano were to blow, the surrounding states of Montana and Idaho would be covered in volcanic magma and ash.
According to HowStuffWorks, the initial blast will kill 90,000 people immediately, but that would only be the start of the storm.
The blast would spread a three metres layer of magma across 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres).
This would mean rescuers would struggle to reach the blast sight, putting more and more civilians at risk.
HowStuffWorks said: “Rescuers probably would have a tough time getting in there.
“The ash would block off all points of entry from the ground, and the spread of ash and gases into the atmosphere would stop most air travel, just as it did when a much smaller volcano erupted in Iceland in 2010.”
However, the eruption would just be the tip of the iceberg, with a ‘nuclear winter’ likely to follow.
A nuclear winter is when so much ash and debris from Earth would be ploughed into the atmosphere.
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This would cause a climate shift to ensue as the volcano would spew massive amounts of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, which can form a sulphur aerosol that reflects and absorbs sunlight.
Ultimately, this would cause temperatures to fall across the planet, which can lead to the lack of ability to grow crops and ultimately widespread famine.
HowStuffWorks said: “Falling temperatures would do a number on our food supply, decimating crops and throwing the food chain out of whack by leaving those at the bottom with little to eat.”
Thankfully the chances of a Yellowstone eruption are very slim and practically non-existent.
The USGS estimates there is around a 0.00014 percent chance each year that the potentially catastrophic volcano could blow.
The agency continued: “Fortunately, the chances of this sort of eruption at Yellowstone are exceedingly small in the next few thousands of years.
“There is no evidence that a catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone is imminent, and such events are unlikely to occur in the next few centuries.
“Scientists have also found no indication of an imminent smaller eruption of lava.”
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