The Yellowstone Supervolcano: A Disaster in the Making?

(Mostly) Harmless Science

Dawn comes, and the night gives way to a ghostly grey gloom. The rays of the morning sun just barely break through the thick haze of smoke and ash that fills the air. An endless cloud blots out the sky, spreading from the source outwards, engulfing much of the continental United States. Of the source itself, little remains but a vast plain of back rocky debris. Welcome to Yellowstone Park – 640,000 years ago.

800px-Columnar_basalt_at_Sheepeater_Cliff_in_Yellowstone-closeupThese basalt columns, relics of one of Yellowstone’s past eruptions, are similar in form to Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway  

Located in northwest Wyoming, Yellowstone is one of America’s most iconic national parks. The mountainous landscape is home to bison, bears, and countless other animal and plant species, roaming free amidst a backdrop of steaming geysers and colorful springs. But far below the ground, geology tells a much more sinister story. Beneath Yellowstone lies a hotspot

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