Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Are you tired of Christmas shopping? Frazzled trying to get your cards out? Sick of hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" for the umpteenth time? Would you like a diversion to get your mind off the stress that comes with this time of year?
Then I have just thing for you: A massive volcanic eruption that would decimate much of North America, cause worldwide starvation, and plunge the entire planet into an ice age, thus shutting up Al Gore.
While not widely known, the fact is that much of Yellowstone National Park is actually the caldera of a massive super-volcano. In fact, it's that ongoing geologic activity that causes all those geysers. The last such eruption was over 600,000 years ago, spewing forth an estimated 240 cubic miles of material. Mount St. Helens, on the other hand, only coughed up a quarter of a cubic mile of material.
A similar super eruption 70,000 years in Indonesia is believed to caused worldwide climate changes that led to a die-off of most humans on the planet at the time. So far at least, Pat Robertson hasn't explained what God was punishing mankind for at the time. Just a guess, but maybe Neanderthals had begun allowing gay marriage.
Scientists say there is no need for immediate worry even as they continue to monitor the area. A reminder of the of ongoing activity are measurements showing that parts of the park rise and fall periodically. For example, Yellowstone rose almost three feet between 1924 and 1985, then began to sink. In 2004, it began rising again. It is believed that the cause of all this is a large magma chamber that sits several miles below the surface. Periodic infusions of molten rock may be pressing on the chamber, which in turn are causing the changes on the surface.
One sure sign that an eruption is imminent would be if scientists begin fleeing the area and packing their bags for Australia.