Let's call it Area One. It's the 600-mile radius around the Yellowstone Caldera. Bill McGuire, professor of geohazards at University College London, considers a 600-mile radius to be deadly space during even a minimal supereruption. "Within a thousand kilometers, virtually all life would be killed by falling ash, lava flows, and the sheer explosive force of the eruption."Some geologists now define 'supereruption' to mean at least 240 cubic miles of ejected material, which is identical to Yellowstone's last supereruption -- Yellowstone 3, aka, Lava Creek -- and about 960 times the quarter-cubic-mile of material ejected by St. Helens in 1980.
A quick and dirty calculation of counties included in Area One's 600-mile radius shows a current population of 19.8 million (estimates by the federal Census Bureau dated 01 July 2005). Unprepared, the vast majority of those will likely be dead or dying in the first days of a Yellowstone supereruption.
By recent scientific calculations using seismic data, the volume of Yellowstone's 80 x 40 x 8 km magma chamber is about 20,000 to 25,000 cubic km -- about 4800 to 6000 cubic miles. If Yellowstone 4 blows out just a quarter of its magma, the 1200 cubic miles spewed will be the largest known supereruption. Yellowstone 1, aka Huckleberry Ridge, about 2 million years ago, was 600 cubic miles of ejecta. Sumatra's Toba, about 74,000 years ago, was 720 cubic miles of ejecta. 1200 cubic miles of ejecta would be 4800 times St. Helens' 1980 blast. And it could happen tomorrow.
The actual size and date of the next Yellowstone supereruption is beside the point. The point is that our politicians have intentionally kept ordinary people unprepared. They want us to shop till we drop. Zero preparation is the point. Unprepared, a Yellowstone supereruption tomorrow, or twenty years from now, will be the nonfeasant murder of tens of millions of ordinary Americans -- by politicians of both parties, done in the corruption kickbacks and greed that fuel the superrichs' obscenely excessive profits.
Zero preparedness threatens everyone living within 600 miles of Yellowstone. However, that specified radius -- from an interview of several geologists for a February 2000 BBC program -- has apparently been branded "alarmist" by Monkeybrain's regime. The map showing the 600-mile-radius -- what I'm calling 'Area One' -- is credited to the US Geological Survey on the Discovery Channel's site, but no longer appears on the USGS site. What does appear on the USGS site is a lot of no-worries pap stacked wide and deep.
The USGS no-worries pap is clearly social engineering designed to maintain government and the global economy for the benefit of the superrich. No fair spending the public money for public civil defense. Public money is for corporate welfare and the superrich.
Civil defense, once a robust arm of civil society but eviscerated for decades by the bought and paid for majority of superrich-representing politicians, is now FEMA's job. FEMA is where Monkeybrain's fascist goosesteppers are doing a heck of a good job securing their wardrobes and careers -- and not saying or doing anything to offend the Business Roundtable, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, or the unconstitutional, privately-owned, and treasonous Federal Reserve.
Despite the BBC programs on supervolcanoes that aired February 2000 and April 2005 -- and the executive summary presented to the FEMA hierarchy by the BBC and the program's scientists after the 2005 program -- FEMA still does not publish any preparedness guidelines for a supereruption.
You can search FEMA far and wide. No mention of radioactive volcanic ash fall appears. Their advice of what to do during a volcanic eruption is infantile, relative to a supereruption from which (1) evacuation might very well be impossible, and (2) roof-crushing radioactive ash might fall in heavily acidic rain for weeks, as far away as Dallas and Chicago. Needless to say, the states' disaster planning amounts to the same no-worries bureaucratic shuffle around short-term emergencies.
Despite FEMA's blind eye, the Yellowstone supereruption will not go away if we ignore it long enough. It is going to happen.
We have three supervolcano caldera in the western US. All of them are due to past-due. The Yellowstone Caldera, the Long Valley Caldera (SE of Yosemite in California), and the Valles Caldera (just west of Los Alamos, NM). Although the Valles Caldera is not as restless as the other two (which are currently making about 3,000 earthquakes per year), they are all capable of equaling Yellowstone 3 (240 cubic miles of ejecta). Continent-covering ash fall would be a killer component of any of their supereruptions. If just one goes off, the unprepared US and the whole world is in deep doo-doo.
Sumatra's Lake Toba supereruption, 74,000 years ago, caused a volcanic winter that probably lasted about six years. The evidence appears in ice cores taken from Greenland. The following thousand-year cold snap took the planet into the Ice Age that ended only 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. One supereruption. 64,000-year hangover.
Another downside. Many imminent scientists are considering scenarios in which multiple natural disasters of cataclysmic proportion are triggered in chain reactions -- by a space rock or space-rock storm, or one of the events themselves. A Yellowstone supereruption, a Long Valley supereruption, the San Andreas lock-up NW of Los Angeles cutting loose, the Cascadia Subduction Zone lock-up cutting loose on the NW coast, and lahars (hot volcanic mudflows) from Mt. Rainier devastating the southern Puget Sound area (into Tacoma) without much warning and without signs of a conventional eruption stand out as one glaring possibility of multiples.
Such chain reactions seem very reasonable. A storm of space rocks 1 km to 1.5 km in diameter (the dinosaur killer at Chicxulub is estimated at about 10 km in diameter) could blow out craters deep enough to explosively open either or both Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas to the atmosphere, easily leading to the chain reaction.
However, multiples are beyond the scope I've set here. Planning for a Yellowstone supereruption seems a good starting point for multiples preparedness. If we know what to do with the Yellowstone Area One, we'll know what to do with a Long Valley Area One.
Unprepared, we face communications failure, health care overload and breakdown; food and water contamination and scarcity; livestock death; food processing plants breakdown; mass starvation; residential cave-ins from ash load; masses of desperate homeless refugees; long-term loss of road and air transport to ash-fall effects; loss of prescription meds distribution; loss of petro-fuel processing and distribution -- just to name some of the problems.
Unprepared, the death toll inside Yellowstone Area One will be 10 to 20 million. We should expect the short term death toll outside Area One to be more tens of millions.
Of course, the corporations and superrich are preparing their fascist global economy to endure with only minimal loss of profits. Production facilities and jobs are already safely and profitably scattered off-shore. The global marketplace has been diversified away from America and into many populous off-shore areas. Monkeybrain's North American Union will spread the American national economy north and south of the borders. The NAU will also finally eliminate the people's rights and liberties under the American Constitution -- always a disruptor of billionaire profits.
Point is, the superrich are not banking on Yellowstone 4 being thousands of years from now, or, alternatively, being such a tiny little insignificant eruption that it can't possibly disturb their profits. They're clearly banking on desertion of America to keep their profits as stable as possible after Yellowstone 4 guts about two-thirds of the continental US. They are elite corruption-machine profit-makers, not natural-disaster half-way houses for the benefit of the rabble.
Middle East war profiteering should give the superrich and their Swiss bank accounts the boost needed for them to make it through the tough times ahead.
Still glad you allowed you rights and liberties to be taken by fascist government so that they can make Nazi-like aggressive war forever, and so that you and your family can be safe?
Still glad about all the time you've spent rebuilding the Democratic Party so that it can grab power from the Republinazis, without bringing any of the treasonous constitutional criminals to justice? So that fascist government can continue its pro-superrich policy of zero preparation -- to kill you and your family?
Still glad you've cocooned yourself away from populist remedies that are outside the box of predator-controlled party politics? (See the "Unity America" action plan in Open Letter To Susan and add nationally organized jury nullification.) Citizen preparation for Yellowstone 4 has the power to bridge and break the social, financial, and psychological cocooning that has paralyzed effective American citizen action for the past three decades. Connect with others. Prepare or die. Liberty or death.
Preparation is the only way to save people and prevent national collapse.
Earthquakes in a caldera, many scientists agree, mean that increasing pressure is breaking brittle rocks around and over the magma chamber, as the magma moves closer to the surface. Heat rises. There have been thousands of Yellowstone earthquakes in the past decade. USGS recorded 113 earthquakes there in the month of February 2007. No worries, of course, say the pap-masters. This is just normal.
Despite the pap-loaded party line from Monkeybrain's goosesteppers and superrich-controled ivory-tower types -- who have explanations for everything except zero preparation -- some prominent scientists continually say that Yellowstone 4 could happen tomorrow.
The fascist regime's main argument for the supereruption still being hundreds or thousands of years off in the future is as childishly vacuous, and as non sequitur, as they come.
All of this restless volcanic activity at Yellowstone, the vacuous argument goes, has been happening for about ten thousand years. Yellowstone is a restless caldera. Uplift and subsidence. New hydrothermal activity from crustal water heated by the magma below. It's all old news. It's all just normal. Therefore, nothing will happen in the foreseeable future.
As if heat does not rise. As if magma does not rise to the surface. As if magma just loiters around in some underground honeycomb condo for ten thousand years.
As if ten thousand years of the Yellowstone magma rising to the surface is no precursor to a supereruption.
As if not being able to stop it means that preparation is futile.
As if preparing for it is something that nobody could have imagined.
Very similar to the Monkeybrain goosesteppers' claim that nobody could have imagined airliners as bombs for the 9/11 attacks. Very similar to the Monkeybrain goosesteppers' claim that nobody could have imagined the breakdown of levies at New Orleans. Are we clear? Monkeybrain's goosesteppers have no imagination and lie their asses off about everything.
As if preparation for the supereruption would not tap off the public and private spending that benefits corporate welfare, the superrich, and the central banking war profiteers most of all.
Cooking for the next supereruption has not been going on for 10,000 years. It has been going on for about 640,000 years. The source is a relentless "mantle plume" hot spot, continually feeding new magma upward.
When the cooking breaks through to the surface -- by earthquake, cap rock melted away until it's too thin and weak to hold the pressure from below, space rock impact, al Qeada suitcase nuc, or whatever -- about 1200 cubic miles of molten, explosive rhyolite could blow up in our faces.
For the past fourteen years at least -- since NASA infrared scanning discovered the true extent of the Yellowstone Caldera in 1993 (doff of cap to Lawrence Joseph in his excellent 2007 book, Apocalypse 2012) -- any responsible government representing all the people would have been prepping citizens to survive the coming supereruption.
Stockpiling safe and renewable sources of food, water, and medicines; building disaster-proof communications; defining self-sustaining communities, and building underground shelters for them that are under survivable above-ground structures (the Swiss style, in poured and reinforced concrete, with blast doors at least 8 feet thick); and providing incentives for relocation out of Area One's 600-mile radius would be just the tip of the preparation iceberg.
But, noooooo. We've got to have an unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous invasion of Iraq. We've got to have aggressive, internationally criminal warfare in the Middle East forever, so that the global billionaires can war-profiteer off the backs of dead and maimed US soldiers. We've got to bankrupt the US for war-profiteering so that low-income social programs can be tossed into the Reagan-Bush voodoo-economics toilet. No fair spending public money for the public. That money belongs to the billionaires.
Outside Area One's 600-mile blast-kill area -- the first ring of doom (with apologies to L. Joseph in A-2012) -- ash fall will be the second ring of doom. Well, if it's not overmatched by the radiation ring of doom. Radioactive minerals, such as uranium U-235, are a natural part of the Yellowstone's mantle plume heat. They're not likely to step aside so that the supereruption can go on without them.
We should expect 6-foot radioactive ash depths 1000 miles downwind from Yellowstone 4. An eruption at Bruno Jarbridge, in SW Idaho, about 10 million years ago -- fueled by the same hot spot that is now under Yellowstone -- buried hundreds of pre-historic animals in 6 feet of ash at present-day Orchard, Nebraska. Orchard is about 1000 miles away from the volcanic source.
(Relocation of the hot spot is no puzzle. The North American Plate moves southwest. The hot spot stays put. The 16- to 17-million-year geologic record of the hot spot's caldera and eruptions shows new caldera forming from southwest to northeast.)
According to the USGS site, a cubic meter of wet ash, stacked on top of another cubic meter of wet ash, could weigh up to 8,800 pounds -- over 4 tons. Deadly weight, for 6 feet of depth. Because it is electrically conductive glass, volcanic ash causes thunderstorms. Volcanic ash almost always falls in a rain. Figure on most of it being wet-weight.
Just the pyroclastic flows near Yellowstone 4 will be capable of killing thousands, tens of thousands, or millions. We've all seen images of the open-mouthed gasps frozen into the Roman corpses at Pompeii, buried in 20 feet of pumice and ash carried by a pyroclastic flow from Vesuvius, August 79 CE.
As with St. Helens, the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius was just a volcanic hiccup relative to the American supervolcanoes.
The no-worries-pap predictions are for Yellowstone 4's pyroclastic flows to take out a 100 km -- 60-mile -- radius. St. Helens' pyroclastic flows took out a 28-km -- 17.4-mile -- radius. It seems pretty dumb to say that a caldera producing 1000 to 4800 times St. Helens' ejecta will collapse into its own giant, miles-deep hole and blow out pyroclastic flows of less than 4 times those of St. Helens.
Seems prudent to me to expect much larger pyroclastic flows at the end of a Yellowstone supereruption. But then, Area One will be pretty much dead already.
Still, a 60-mile radius is 11,304 square miles (area = pi times radius squared). Pick it up to a 100-mile radius and you've got 31,400 square miles. Either is unimaginable to the kid who once cut corn out of half-mile bean rows for weekend work.
Then there's the volcanic winter. It'll last some years or decades, depending on how big the supereruption is and how long it lasts. The planet, scientists say, will be completely encircled with volcanic clouds within two weeks after a supereruption. All ecosystems will be adversely affected. The Asian monsoons will be disrupted, adding the loss of that world's breadbasket to the loss of the US breadbasket.
The staggering list of killer effects goes on and on. Zero preparation sucks.
BBC, Supervolcanoes, first aired 03 February 2000, transcript, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/1999/
BBC, Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone Part 1, first aired 14 April 2005, transcript, at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1343737.htm
BBC, Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone Part 2, first aired 21 April 2005, transcript, at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1350403.htm
Modified Wed 04 Apr 2007, at 3:45 p.m.
© 2007 by Stephen Neitzke