What effect would a supervolcano have on America being a World Leader?

I watched ‘Supervolcano’ on BBC one where the potential affect was the disruption of 25 million people within the vicinity of Wyoming, with a greater portion of the US (3 quarters) being subject to a blanket of Ash, with devastating effects. It lasts around a week, but I was wondering on the long term effects, say if it were to happen now, on its economic and military situation, would the US collapse? Or would it be severly impoverished, having to maintain commitments and a large domestic disturbance as well?


“Being ignored by governments”? What are governments to do? Nobody knows how to predict or prevent volcanic eruptions, or earthquakes or tsunamis. Are they saying we should have some kind of emergency preparedness in place? If 3/4 of the world were covered in volcanic ash, that would disrupt agriculture for at least a year. And I see no practical way of stockpiling a year’s supply of emergency food rations for the whole country, let alone the whole world.

Has a “supervolcano” like this ever happened before in human history? In Earth’s history?

did you even read the link? It’s happened 3 times, all three in Wyoming, and thats the supervolcanoes we do know about.

3/4 isn’t going to be covered by Volcanic ash, but 3/4 of the US will be, the rest of the World would be affected by the release of Sulphur Dioxide and other Aerosols into the Stratosphere, bringing down the Earths climate to a disasterous low.

We should have some preparedness for a portion of the population to survive, the most viable anyway, which would increase chances of our survival afterwards, which is the main problem.

We have preparations – large subterranean shelters in Virginia and elsewhere, left over from the Cold War – but they could only accommodate a few hundred or at most a few thousand government and military VIPs, and I don’t think they’re intended for long-term residence. For more extensive preparations . . . I guess we’ll have to consult Dr. Strangelove! :slight_smile:

We cannot allow a mine shaft gap!

From the article linked in the OP:

That makes it sound like we’re 40,000 years overdue and had better be worried – but when you think about what “roughly” means on the relevant time-scale – really, the next eruption could happen tomorrow, or 10,000 years from now.

I’d rather devote my worry-time to anthropogenic global warming. Even given how sketchy a picture we have of it, it’s a much more imminent threat – and we might actually able to prevent it, rather than making preparations for a few of us to survive it.

Volcano winter perhaps?

Source: http://eos.higp.hawaii.edu/education/slide_set1/

Source: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3024/](http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3024/images/fs2005-3024_fig_12.jpg )

The BBC special is based on the Yellowstone Supervolcano and will be repeated on the Discovery Channel in April.

Expect a supervolcano event to change everything. Politics would be the least of our worries.

If it happens, it happens. There isn’t a thing you can do to stop it, so why bother worrying? If it all blows up, I’ll just grab the 9mm and prey on my neighbors for a few years. :smiley:

If you think about it though, there seems to be a hole in their reasoning. They say that these eruptions are on a cycle of about 600 000 years. However the first one happened 2.1 million years ago, the second one happened 1.2 million years ago and then the third one happened 640 000 years ago.

So, in actual fact, we’ve only had one 600 000 year gap - between eruptions 2 and 3. There’s not enough evidence to say there is a “cycle” if there’s only been one gap of the requisite size. You can’t form a cycle theory based on only one event.

The previous gap (between eruptions 1 and 2) was 900 000 years. Was there an eruption before number 1? In any case, since we’ve got two gaps, one of 900 000 years and then one of 600 000 years, could you not make an argument that the next eruption should happen 300 000 years later? But that would have been 300 000 years ago. There just doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to support a cycle theory (and being precise about the time frame).

Old British joke:

GENTLEMAN: Hodges, I’ve just bought these saplings and I want you to plant them on the grounds tomorrow afternoon.

GARDENER: Yes, sir. But you ought to know, this kind of tree takes thirty years to grow to maturity.

GENTLEMAN: In that case, plant them tomorrow morning!

Make sure you cook them well, and only eat the healthiest ones. Undercooked human flesh is just brimming with pathogens that are evolved to infect humans (which is why they are in your dinner in the first place).


General “Buck” Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?

Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious… service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.

Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

You’d have to have a pretty damn big “vicinity of Wyoming” for there to be 25 million people in it.

Just sayin’.

“…we’d stand a damn good chance of catchin’ 'em with their pants down!”

There may be potential superplumes all over the place. A few that I remember (or suspect) both past and present are:
part of Idaho (don’t know the name of the plume)
the Deccan Traps
the Siberian traps
Long Valley
the Africa / South America rift (now the mid Atlantic ridge)
There may be another one hiding under Vesuvius.

I’m in California - supposedly just outside the Wyoming kill zone. But, given the amount of devastation, I’m not sure what sort of life it would be afterwards. If it’s some sort of post apocalyptic Mad Max thing, I want one of those cool cars.

The future, and you.

Nah, it’s more like this.

Super volcanoes (or plumes) did happen. There are lava fields in South America that match the rock in Africa (from when the continents split apart). There are the lava fields in Siberia and India (the Traps). There is the geothermal activity in Yellowtone and talk about how the whole area may be bulging up again. There are fossils from around the time Yellowstone exploded that show evidence that animals slowly choked to death on ash, and they match the expected wind patterns. There are old volcanoes in California from the Long Valley episode.

I don’t think any happened in human history, but just maybe there was at least a big honking volcano. There was a big volcanic event just about the time early humans began colonizing Europe and Asia. According to some geneticists, modern humans should have more genetic diversity than they have, based on how long humans have been around. By backtracking, they estimated some date which coincides with a big event in southeast Asia. According to them, it was the near extinction of humanity. My problem is, I can’t remember the details or the approximate date.

Guess I better look at selling the family home quick!

That’s what I was wondering. How big of a circle do you have to draw around Wyoming to get 25 million people?

And, for what it’s worth, I always thought that this is what the future would look like.