Friday, January 2, 2009

Yellowstone tremors a sign of a big badda boom?

The ground has been shaking a bit at Yellowstone National Park and that has some geologists worried that it may be a sign of a looming volcanic eruption.

'So, what?' you say.

Well, this eruption could be a doosey -- one that may be legitimately classified as a threat to human civilization. A volcanic explosion in that area could result in half of the United States and Canada getting buried under a blanket of ash.

And it gets worse. According to the Geological Society of London, the effects of a super-eruption would be comparable to those predicted for the impact of a 1km-diameter asteroid with the Earth. And somewhat surprisingly, super-eruptions are 5-10 times more likely to occur than such an impact.

Even more disturbing is that eruptions at Yellowstone happen every 600,000 years or so -- which means we're about due. But thankfully, SciAm's David Biello contends that the signs of a super-explosion aren't all present.

Read more here and here.

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