Caldera (a large basin-like depression resulting from the explosion or collapse of the center of a volcano) is the Spanish word for cauldron and it is a term used in Geology. Magma chambers, the molten material beneath or within the earth’s crust, is what fuels a volcano. Just recently it was discovered that Yellowstone National Park has a second magma chamber – and it is massive. There is enough magma in the chamber to fill the Grand Canyon eleven times over. Yellowstone’s volcano is classified as a Super Volcano. What is a super volcano? Let us compare the difference between the Mount St. Helens eruption and the largest eruption at Yellowstone. The volume of volcanic rock produced by Yellowstone was 600 cubic miles versus a quarter mile of rock at Mount St. Helens – Yellowstone was 2,400 times greater in volume then Mount St. Helens! Yellowstone ash can be found from Ventura, California to Iowa. There have been three eruptions at Yellowstone: the first and largest was 2.1 million years ago at Huckleberry Ridge; the second event was 1.3 million years ago and formed the Island Park Caldera; and the most recent was 0.65 million years ago and created the caldera named Lava Creek. These super eruptions caused the surrounding landscape to be denuded – a moonscape on the planet Earth. A Yellowstone eruption would rain super-heated rocks and ash over great distances. Not only would there be ash in the air, but massive amounts of sulfur dioxide, covering the earth many times over, would cause volcanic winters. Volcanic winters have caused Ice Ages in the past due to the blockage of the sun’s rays to the Earth. Sound harsh? Yes, but nature is harsh and unforgiving. When will the volcano erupt? The probability of the event happening in the near future is rare – scientists tell us it is a 1 in 700,000 chance, so don’t cancel your vacation to Yellowstone. Go and enjoy nature and all its wonders.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.