When you think of a global catastrophe, you don’t usually think of things like volcano eruptions. Personally, my first thoughts go to things like nuclear war or A huge asteroid hitting the planet.
NASA scientists are currently claiming that a supervolcano eruption could be a bigger threat to human civilization than any other known external threat. While Yellowstone will not be erupting right now, someday it will. When it does, what will that mean for mankind?
Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told BBC the following:
“I was a member of the Nasa Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets. I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”
While all of these super volcanoes (there are about 20 of them) Yellowstone has been a great concern in more recent times. According to NASA, if they pump heat from within the caldera (volcanic crater) they may be able to cool Yellowstone and other supervolcanoes down as they begin to heat up. In order to do this, they would have to drill a hole into the hot rock and pump water through the borehole. This process would end up being able to power turbines, and those in the surrounding area would be able to use electricity that once was geothermal energy.
This project though would be very costly coming in at around 3.46 billion dollars. With that being said, the heat coming from Yellowstone alone could power the area as mentioned above for around 10,000 years. If Yellowstone were to erupt hundreds of cubic miles of lava would be released, and those people close by would be gone quickly. The surrounding area would be covered with volcanic ash.
Dust, gases, and ash released into the atmosphere would most likely cause a volcanic winter for the whole world since sunlight would be blocked by these things. This event in itself would lead to the destruction of crops across the globe and the deaths of millions. Many would end up starving to death as food reserves would not last long.
Currently, it seems almost impossible to convince politicians to sanction initiatives in order to use water as a means of cooling down Yellowstone. One of the main concerns about drilling into this or any supervolcano is the threat of possibly triggering the eruption we are trying to prevent. However, Wilcox claims that by drilling from the lower sides you are preventing the heat from coming up and reaching the top of the chamber. This reduces the threat. It would take quite some time to cool the volcano and around tens of thousands of years before only cold rock were left.
Do you think this plan will ever come to action? Either way, we need to do something. To learn more about what will happen if Yellowstone erupts check out the video below.