… and God shall rain down destruction fire and brimstone upon the land and all that which remains will be blanketed in a smoldering silencing ash, hushing the wails of sorrow. While this all sounds very biblical and even whimsical, the scientific fact is that the western mountain and central sections of The United States face such a fate, but not at the hands of a deity or an antichrist.
The only question is “when?” not “if?”
A caldera is formed when a volcano suffers so massive an explosion and ejects so much magma, ash, and gas under pressure that it collapses of its own weight into the emptied subterranean chambers that fed it. The result is a huge pit as big as 50 miles in diameter and hundreds of feet deep in place of the usual majestic snow-covered mountain peak.
Such an event has happened in North America not once, but three times in a place you normally wouldn’t think of as a hotbed of volcanic activity. This particular renowned and famous tourist destination has a little-known periodic feature that is more deadly than Old Faithful and is ominously about 40,000 years behind schedule.
Of the three most massive volcanic eruptions in our continent’s geological history, Yellowstone National Park holds the first and second place records. The Long Valley California caldera comes in at number three. Yellowstone so far has had two mega-destructive events — 2 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and a smaller one (for the sake of comparison, not severity) 600,000 years ago.
The area around, beneath and within our nation’s first national park is known in scientific circles as a “Super Volcano” and there’s a good reason for all that magnificent mountain scenery. Approximately two million years ago the first Yellowstone blast left a crater that has been estimated at 49.8 miles long by 40.5 miles wide. Geological records reveal a ballpark figure of the output of that eruption at 585 cubic miles of molten magma.