Could the eruption of the Yellowstone National Park super-volcano cause a mass extinction?
The Yellowstone volcano is known to many as the most dangerous volcano is America. Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at an alarming rate. In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year., which is practically unheard of. The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano, the largest volcano in North America. Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable. But could it cause a mass extinction? A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would put much of the United States as uninhabitable. With enough warning, the states near Yellowstone could be evacuated, which would largely avoid a great number of deaths caused by the downpour of ash. However, that’s just in the short term, the aftermath would be the problem. For several days, ash would hang in the air, making it difficult to breathe. That blanket of ash covering the country would smother vegetation and pollute the water supply, which will quickly lead to a nationwide food crisis. As for the rest of the world, it would face a few years of mild climate change caused by the supereruption’s ash cloud, which would wrap around the globe, casting Earth in shadow for several days and altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere for a decade or so. However, recent research shows the global impacts of supervolcanoes are less severe than scientists once thought.
Scientists now think the vast majority of Earth’s species would weather a Yellowstone supereruption just fine. They don’t see any evidence in the geologic record of mass extinctions coinciding with supereruptions. In conclusion, they don’t predict extinctions to result from such geologic events in the future.