What Would Happen If The Yellowstone Volcano Erupted?

Matt Lillywhite

One of the world's largest volcanoes is located in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. And when it eventually erupts again, the resulting damage might be catastrophic. According to Vox, "it could spew ash for thousands of miles across the United States, damaging buildings, smothering crops, and shutting down power plants."

"Three extremely large explosive eruptions have occurred at Yellowstone in the past 2.1 million years," according to the US Geological Survey (a government agency). And while the chances of the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting soon are slim, such a scenario is considered plausible as the volcano is still active.

According to the US Geological Survey, "Volcanoes do not work in predictable ways, and their eruptions do not follow predictable schedules." Therefore, it's difficult for anyone to predict when the next major eruption at Yellowstone will occur. It might be soon, or it could be in 1,000 years. But here's a breakdown of what might plausibly happen if Yellowstone erupted again:

The Local Area Would Experience Several Large Earthquakes.

A large amount of seismic activity would be felt in (and around) Yellowstone National Park. According to the US Geological Survey, earthquakes are a common sign of an impending eruption.

"A few large regional earthquakes (greater than magnitude 6) are considered to be related to a subsequent eruption or to some type of unrest at a nearby volcano. However, volcanoes can only be triggered into eruption by nearby tectonic earthquakes if they are already poised to erupt."

Many Cities Would Be Blanketed In A Thick Layer Of Ash.

Nearby states such as Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado would be covered in a thick layer of ash. However, the impact of an eruption wouldn't be isolated to that region of the country.

California, New York, and Texas would also be impacted by falling ash, per the US Geological Survey. However, it's important to note that the amount of ash would decrease with distance from the eruption site.

Here's a useful map that shows how different states would be impacted by falling ash:

The Impact Of An Eruption Would Be Devastating.

According to the National Weather Service, "Volcanic ash is abrasive, making it an irritant to eyes and lungs. Ashfall can cause minor to major damage to vehicles and buildings, contaminate water supplies, disrupt sewage and electrical systems, and damage or kill vegetation."

It's also worth noting that airlines across the United States would have to suspend flights as ash presents a major hazard to jet engines and diminishes visibility while flying. It also poses a danger to cars - making it very difficult for anyone to drive or use public transportation.

What do you think about the possibility of an eruption in Yellowstone? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media?

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