Yellowstone Volcano Eruption: Ash From The Supervolcano Would Be Thick, But Not A ‘Doomsday Scenario’

If the Yellowstone volcano eruption were to happen, scientists say the ash distribution from the Yellowstone supervolcano would be several feet thick in some areas, but not quite the doomsday scenario envisioned by some reports.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, it’s claimed that oil fracking could induce earthquakes and Oklahoma has seen a veritable spike in seismicity in recent times. So we asked several scientists whether or not it’s possible that earthquakes induced by U.S. oil fracking could affect the Yellowstone supervolcano.

Ash3D is a computer simulation developed by members of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in order to model the effects of a Yellowstone volcano eruption. Larry Mastin, the lead author of the study and a USGS hydrologist who helped develop the Ash3D model, says the states surrounding the Yellowstone National Park would essentially be caught in an ash blizzard.

“It’s a crazy thing to think about because none of us have ever seen an eruption like Yellowstone. It would be two or three orders of magnitude more ash than we’ve been able to observe.”

But Jacob Lowenstern, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and a co-author of the research, says the point of Ash3D was not to “talk about how much ash a place would get.” Instead, the focus is to determine how the aviation industry would be affected if another large volcano would spew out ash clouds into the atmosphere. This became a large concern after a volcano in Iceland shut down almost all the air traffic in Europe in 2010.

The Ash3D model assumes the Yellowstone volcano eruption would essentially create a mushroom cloud like a nuclear explosion, and the force of the explosion would push the ash past the predominant jet stream winds, creating an umbrella cloud of ash. In the end, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory notes that the Yellowstone volcano research proves that the end of the world scenarios propagated on the internet may not be as a bad as once feared.

“Lack of reliable information left the door open to speculation and fanciful depictions of the effects of supereruptions, which are easily found on the Internet. Results of the new study show that ash accumulation, while widespread and substantial, is far less than in most of these ‘doomsday’ scenarios.”

According to the Independent Record, the research also pointed out that the last major Yellowstone volcano eruption occurred about 70,000 years ago and was relatively minor, only creating a lava flow in the southern portion of the park’s Pitchstone Plateau. Three more eruptions before that were massive in size, but even then the thickest ash deposits in the Great Plains, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado “were more than likely blown around by the wind and formed dunes.”

[Image via The Atlantic]