August 19, 2017:


Brian Wilcox, an ex-member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense, made the horrifying revelation while discussing a report by the space agency.


He told the BBC: “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.”


Mr. Wilcox warned it is clear something must be done about Yellowstone.


He said Yellowstone is so urgent because an eruption is basically imminent, explaining: “Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.”





Yellowstone Caldera



Cubic miles of ash and debris ejected from eruptions USGS website



Projected death zones and of and ash fallout







On Aug. 17 1959 at 11:37 p.m., the Red Canyon fault and the Hebgen fault, both in the Madison River area, moved simultaneously and triggered an earthquake that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. That earthquake forced a massive landslide that screamed down mountains and hills at about 100 miles per hour. Tons of rocks and earth crashed into Madison Canyon. The results were catastrophic. The force of the slide caused a flood and high winds swept a giant wave downstream. Five people died in the flood alone. The landslide killed another 28 people. It also dropped the north shore of Hebgen Lake 19 feet. Cabins on the shore washed into the water as huge waves crested over Hebgen Dam. Three sections of Highway 287 fell into the lake, the dam cracked in at least four places and hundreds of campers were trapped. The landslide eventually stopped, essentially damming the Madison River and creating Earthquake, or “Quake Lake,” a 190-foot deep, six mile long lake stocked with German and Brown Trout.



On that night, August 17th 1959, I was just outside the East Gate with my family on my way home to California from a summer’s trip to visit family in Nebraska.  I remember it changed our plans but I never knew, until recently, what science would find once the ground stopped shaking.  Scientist would discover something that has always had the potential to end life as it is today.


There are only a few in the world and any one of them holds the means to cause catastrophic loss of life.  Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano.  The Yellowstone Supervolcano has historically erupted about every 600,000 years.  It last erupted about 640,000 years ago.  When Yellowstone erupts again, everything you have done to save the Earth from human destruction may not matter.


The article below is from the BBC.  It introduces a program I then watched.  It changed my priorities.  I realized we are not in charge.  We should lead reasonable, responsible lives.  Enjoy what life offers, but always understand, we are not in charge.  That there are powers at work far greater than we can imagine.


Then just the other evening, Naked Science, (produced and aired by The National Geographic Channel) aired their version of Yellowstone Supervolcano.  Coupled with how little I see the scientist know of what is going on at Mt. St. Helens.  How they failed to understand in 1980 the power of Mt. St. Helens and even today cannot say anything definitive, I felt compelled to share how some of my opinions are shaped.







First shown: BBC2 9:30pm Thursday 3rd February 2000 


Exploding VolcanoHidden deep beneath the Earth's surface lie one of the most destructive and yet least-understood natural phenomena in the world - supervolcanoes. Only a handful exist in the world but when one erupts it will be unlike any volcano we have ever witnessed. The explosion will be heard around the world. The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.


Normal volcanoes are formed by a column of magma - molten rock - rising from deep within the Earth, erupting on the surface, and hardening in layers down the sides. This forms the familiar cone shaped mountain we associate with volcanoes. Supervolcanoes, however, begin life when magma rises from the mantle to create a boiling reservoir in the Earth's crust. This chamber increases to an enormous size, building up colossal pressure until it finally erupts.


The last supervolcano to erupt was Toba 74,000 years ago in Sumatra. Ten thousand times bigger than Mt St Helens, it created a global catastrophe dramatically affecting life on Earth. Scientists know that another one is due - they just don't know when... or where.


Yellowstone National ParkIt is little known that lying underneath one of America's areas of outstanding natural beauty - Yellowstone Park - is one of the largest supervolcanoes in the world. Scientists have revealed that it has been on a regular eruption cycle of 600,000 years. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago... so the next is overdue.


And the sleeping giant is breathing: volcanologists have been tracking the movement of magma under the park and have calculated that in parts of Yellowstone the ground has risen over seventy centimeters this century. Is this just the harmless movement of lava, flowing from one part of the reservoir to another? Or does it presage something much more sinister, a pressurized build-up of molten lava?


Scientists have very few answers, but they do know that the impact of a Yellowstone eruption is terrifying to comprehend. Huge areas of the USA would be destroyed, the US economy would probably collapse, and thousands might die.


And it would devastate the planet. Climatologists now know that Toba blasted so much ash and sulphurThe World

dioxide into the stratosphere that it blocked out the sun, causing the Earth's temperature to plummet. Some geneticists now believe that this had a catastrophic effect on human life, possibly reducing the population on Earth to just a few thousand people. Mankind was pushed to the edge of extinction... and it could happen again.





Yellowstone Volcano: Is "the Beast" Building to a Violent Tantrum?


August 30, 2001



When the volcano in Yellowstone National Park blew 6,400 centuries ago, it obliterated a mountain range, felled herds of prehistoric camels hundreds of miles away and left a smoking hole in the ground the size of the Los Angeles Basin.


Modern Yellowstone doesn't dwell on its cataclysmic past—or its potential for another monster eruption.


Rangers tell people to keep their distance from bison and steaming geysers. But there are no signs, aside from nature's own bubbling mud pots and geysers that visitors are wandering through the caldera of one of the largest active volcanoes in the world.


"This is a geologic park, and not many know it," said Robert Smith, a geophysicist at the University of Utah who has spent his career piecing together the story of the Yellowstone volcano. "It's not a bison park. Not an elk park. It's a geologic park."


New sensors have allowed researchers to confirm a suspicion that Smith has held for a long time: that the ancient volcano scientists dub "the beast" is a living force. The instruments record a continuing pattern of heaving and bulging and act as an early warning system.


Installed without fanfare and hidden from view, the sensitive devices are an acknowledgment that the past could be prologue, that this seemingly serene plateau could blow so hard it would make the 1980 Mount St. Helens explosion look like a sneeze.


Stepped-Up Monitoring

This summer, Yellowstone was added to the nation's handful of official volcano observatories. The others, smaller but far better known, are in Hawaii, Alaska, the Cascades, and California's Long Valley.

The Yellowstone observatory consists of a string of 28 electronic detection stations scattered through the park. Related plans call for at least 100 more monitoring sites.


For Smith, who argued for years that the volcano deserved more attention than it was getting, the observatory is sweet vindication. The beast is finally getting its due.


What took so long for science to put its ear to the ground, given the fact that geophysicists have known for 30 years that Yellowstone was a major volcanic system?


For one thing, Smith said, they couldn't decide whether the Yellowstone system was still active or in its death throes. For another, it doesn't look like a volcano.


It's just too big. From a viewpoint on the north rim of the caldera, a few miles from the Yellowstone River's Upper and Lower Falls, the southern edge of the caldera is obscured. It's more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) away—well within the massive park, but lost in the haze.


The last huge eruption was 640,000 years ago. Since then, a series of smaller ones have filled in the caldera "like tubes of toothpaste squeezing out all over the place," Smith said. The 3,000-foot-thick (one kilometer-thick) glaciers of the last Ice Age erased edges of the caldera, which is now a broad, undulating plateau rimmed by mountains.


The Earth has always shaken periodically around Yellowstone. But without the proper monitoring equipment in place, no one knew how often it happened or why. Smith, who has been investigating here for more than 30 years, set up seismometers and found earthquakes by the hundreds.

The Basin and Range country that extends from California to Montana is one of the most seismically active regions east of California's San Andreas Fault. It is being stretched apart as tectonic plates beneath it move.


But the earthquakes Smith started tracking three decades ago—15,000 between 1973 and 1998, often in swarms—didn't altogether fit conventional notions of seismicity. There were quakes where you would expect them to occur, along north/south fault lines perpendicular to the stretching. But there were also some along parallel fault lines—activity that seemed to have no relation to the stretching.


Smith started thinking about the quakes in combination with Yellowstone's famously unstable plumbing. Was it possible that both the quakes and the geysers were products of volcanic action, of underground magma flows?


Hot Spot

Atop a volcano, mountains are pushed up by swelling magma; the subsequent explosion then destroys them and engulfs their remains.


In 1965 a team led by Robert Christiansen of the U.S. Geological Survey mapped the massive caldera and various lava flows in detail while NASA tried out a new remote-sensing technology in the region.

"It was not a surprise it was a young volcano," Christiansen recalled. "It was a surprise it was as young as it is."


He turned to Smith, whose seismic data would reveal whether the volcano was still rumbling. Together, the two men were able to see the system for what it was: a very active and large volcano that had sculpted much of the Northwest.


Smith and Christiansen saw evidence that a huge plume of magma rose from deep within the Earth and bore through the continental plate. As the plate moved southwest, the "hot spot" left a series of what Smith terms "ancient Yellowstones" across a 500-mile (800-kilometer) swath of southern Idaho from Oregon to Montana.


The hot-spot theory was dismissed when it was introduced by Smith in 1973. Accepted wisdom said volcanoes were found at the edges of tectonic plates and that hot spots occur mainly on the seafloor. "It took people a while to catch on," Smith said.


The evidence, ultimately, was incontrovertible.


There was the blasted topography, the layers of lava flows, the misaligned earthquake faults and Yellowstone's superheated, effervescent plumbing. Only one force was big enough to account for it all: a massive volcano. What Smith still didn't know was whether it was asleep.


In the mid-1970s, while surveying an old benchmark put into place when the first roads were cut through Yellowstone in 1923, Smith found that the ground had risen three feet (one meter) in five decades.


There could be only one explanation. The volcano was bulging upward. Smith and his students spent two years confirming the observation. By 1979, when he published the findings in the journal Science, even skeptics were becoming convinced that Yellowstone was an active volcano.


The caldera rose an inch a year until 1985. Then a swarm of earthquakes occurred nearby. By 1987 measurements showed that the caldera was falling an inch (2.5 centimeters) a year. In 1995 it started rising again. The caldera is now bulging again, toward the southwest.


Confirmation that the volcano was active was one of the most important factors in getting a new observatory established here. The movement of the volcano also suggests a controversial new idea forcing many geologists to rethink the very definition of hot spots and how they work.


Will It Blow Again?

Until Smith came along, most scientists believed that hot spots originate 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) down, at the boundary between the Earth's core and mantle. The newly revealed geology of Yellowstone suggests that this hot spot might be very shallow, born of the vagaries of heat and changing pressures or some other process yet unknown.


As far as it goes, the scientists work has yet to answer the most important question of all: Will the volcano blow its top again?


New studies by a research team at the University of Wisconsin that analyzed tiny crystals within hardened lava suggest a "dying, but still potent, cycle of volcanism."


Some people believe that the hot spot is moving under the Rocky Mountains, a much thicker and colder part of the continent, and that it will be effectively capped. Others contend that the cap won't stop the fury of the hot spot.


Smith and Christiansen can't say for sure, but they know the volcano is not dead. There is no reason, they say, it won't blow again.


Christiansen doubts the likelihood of another cataclysmic eruption any time soon, but he doesn't rule out something smaller. Earthquakes, rock slides, and steam explosions from geyser basins are all possible. A blowout on the scale of Mount St. Helens is conceivable, he said, adding: "We need to be prepared."


Copyright 2001 Ogden Publishing Corporation (for StandardNet)





Eruptive history of Clear Lake California’s Volcanic Field:


The Clear Lake Volcanics erupted during four periods of time beginning at about 2 Ma (million years ago). There is a general decrease in age northward from 2 Ma in the south to about 10,000 years in the north. Geophysical data suggests there is currently a spherical to cylindrical magma chamber about 8.7 mi in diameter and about 4.3 mi from the surface. Seismic studies indicate that the vertical extent is approximately 18.6 mi deep.


Read more about Lake County’s Volcano here







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