Caldera, the mother of all volcanoes

An eruption that could bring a nuclear winter

The+calm%2C+colorful+scene+captured+in+this+photo+of+supervolcano+Caldera+proves+the+saying+that+looks+can+be+deceiving.+
The calm, colorful scene captured in this photo of supervolcano Caldera proves the saying that looks can be deceiving.

The calm, colorful scene captured in this photo of supervolcano Caldera proves the saying that looks can be deceiving.

Photo provided by independent.co.uk

Photo provided by independent.co.uk

The calm, colorful scene captured in this photo of supervolcano Caldera proves the saying that looks can be deceiving.

Tori Valby, Staff Writer

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With the recent eclipse and North Korean relations friendlier than ever, the newly introduced topic of Super Volcano Caldera, located in Yellowstone National Park, adds to the “end of the world” hysteria erupting. While volcanoes have been studied by scientists for a very long time, the idea of a super volcano that could in fact “blanket the US in a nuclear winter” scientists say, is not common knowledge to many.

Caldera erupted for the first time known to science 2.1 million years ago, then again 1.3 million years ago, then 640,000 years ago, and according to Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology, Yellowstone explodes approximately on a 600,000-year cycle and it has been about 600,000 years since the last explosion. The exact determination of when or even if it is ever going to explode has no definite answer, but even the smallest chance has incited conversation. This is understandable, in regard to the possible effects that this explosion could have.

The long-term effects that a super volcano could have not only would affect the United States, but the entire world. An extremely large amount of sulphur dioxide would be released into the atmosphere and in turn, worldwide starvation could erupt. The United Nations estimates that global food reserves would “only last about 74 days.” According to Larry Mastin, a USGS volcanologist, “The biggest fear for volcanologists is wind-blown ash that could potentially cover over half the continent.” This super volcano has been dormant for so long that the sudden reviewing of all that it could do is testing the minds of our most educated scientists, challenging them to be overcome one of mother nature’s finest creations.

NASA researchers and volcanologists are currently studying a possible strategy that would prevent an eruption by “drilling into the base and inserting high pressure water jets to cool it down, and release heat from the magma chamber.” We have coexisted with the volcanos for a very long time, and there have been several large eruptions that have caused severe effects. There are, in fact, four super volcanos in the United States, one in California, one in Oregon, one in New Mexico, and Caldera in Wyoming;  however, because of their widely spread out eruptions, their existence is rarely a discussion topic. If NASA’s plan is effective, the super volcano remains super no longer, but there is potential risk to poking this easily-tempered bear. The drilling could make the magma chamber more fragile which could then lead to a triggering of the release of harmful gases at the top of the chamber. However, NASA seems confident in their science, as they have proven themselves time and again to beat the odds. The project is estimated to cost approximately 3.6 billion dollars, which seems very cheap in the great span of things. NASA has my full support to spend however many US dollars needed to keep that volcano asleep, and I am sure the rest of the United States would agree.

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