The amazing power of a supervolcano may be why most fear the threat of a Yellowstone volcano eruption, but one scientist predicts it is the lowly salt that would cause the end of the world, not the massive explosion.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, Muslim terrorists operating in the United States attempted to hatch a plot to artificially trigger an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano in order to destroy the country.
The last time a volcanic apocalypse occurred, around 85 percent of all species on land and 95 percent of ocean dwellers were obliterated. This event left a mark on Sibera that is eight times the size of England. No one knows for certain when the Yellowstone volcano eruption will occur, but the USGS calculates the yearly odds against a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption as 730,000 to one. As a comparison, the odds of a royal flush in poker is 1 in 649,740, so it's possible the world could draw a bad hand.
The reason the Yellowstone volcano eruption is feared so much is because the resulting explosion could be measured in megatons. The giant caldera underneath Yellowstone National Park measures 35 by 45 miles, and the amount of magma was recently discovered to be about 2.5 times larger than previously estimated. Older reports say it was around 36,000 atmospheres, and when the caldera generates enough pressure, it will explode with the power of a nuclear explosion, killing millions of people in the initial blast and burying a good portion of the United States in mountains of ash.
But the massive explosion generated by a supervolcano is not what would cause the end of the world. Henrik Svensen at the University of Oslo in Norway says the killer ingredient would be salt. When the vast heat generated by a volcanic eruption goes off, if it's in the wrong spot, the salt deposits are baked and released into the atmosphere as ozone-destroying chemicals. Svensen believes the lack of protective atmospheric ozone caused many species to die from harmful radiation in past extinction events.
Fortunately, the good news is that the major salt deposits are located in different parts of the globe.
"East Siberia is still among the largest reservoirs," says Svensen, according to BBC. "Offshore Brazil is also big."
Americans may still be worried about a Yellowstone volcano eruption based upon the rumors that flew around in 2014. After all, even if the entire world doesn't face a salty death, the United States would be covered in giant piles of burning ash. The best news is that the USGS reports that "no earthquake swarm activity was present during February," and the threat of an eruption is listed as "normal."