Who knew that underneath Yellowstone National park lingers a dormant supervolcano. Don’t worry, though, it’s (probably) not going to blow anytime soon:
“Yellowstone has been eruption-free for 70,000 years, neglecting occasional steam explosions. Two centers of resurgence within the last caldera, where the land heaves up and down several feet over the course of decades, bear watching, but there’s no sign of imminent trouble. Volcanologists expect at least a few weeks of pre-eruption warning.
What’s the chance of a supereruption anywhere in the world in the next 50 years? Estimates range from one chance in 1,000 to one in 10,000 — hardly cause for panic. When it does happen, though, a lot of people are going to be toast. A supereruption could kill tens of millions. Within 10 to 50 miles of the next Yellowstone vent, you’ll be Pompeiiized beneath thousands of feet of hot ash. More than half the U.S. will experience ashfall, potentially fatal if inhaled. Ash and associated toxins could devegetate a third of the lower 48 (including some of the world’s most productive farmland) for years or decades, leading to mass starvation. Grim, but so unlikely that the U.S. Geological Survey lists Yellowstone as only the 19th most dangerous American volcano. Pimples like Kilueha, Saint Helens, and Rainier top the list.”