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New Computer Model Predicts Impact of Yellowstone Volcano Eruption

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the how-bad-is-it? dept.

United States 121

An anonymous reader writes Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have used a program named Ash 3D to predict the impact of a Yellowstone volcano eruption, and found that cities within 300 miles from Yellowstone National Park may get covered by up to three feet of ash. From the article: "Ash3D helped the researchers understand how the previous eruptions created a widespread distribution of ash in places in the park's periphery. Aside from probing ash-distribution patterns, the Ash3D can also be used to identify potential hazards that volcanoes in Alaska may bring."

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Do they know more than they let on? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802625)

Wow ... there is a lot of talk about the Yellowstone volcano. Do the authorities know more than they are saying to the public? Why all of the sudden interest in Yellowstone? Is an eruption imminent and we are not being told?

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802677)

We now have at least some capabilities (in terms of possible solutions, technologies, reduction or even prevention theories having more merit now and etc.) on reducing the effects of a Yellowstone eruption compared to a decade and more before when there were none, i assume. So that's why there's a big focus.
Also, it is a big focus now because the Iceland volcano ash eruption a few years back showcased how disruptive to economy and life it can be, and it is a pea in comparison to Yellowstone.
What with all the weird climate and geographical happenings for the past few years with all kinds of records being broken in varying countries and in varying ways, and what with unusual things happening in countries where such things weren't a norm (snow in Egypt or wherever near N. Africa, unusual tornadoes in western europe, seasons being all crapped up in Europe alone etc. etc.), i guess there's good reason to be focused on Yellowstone because it is pretty damn unstable and it is well past its traditional exploding point.
That's all i can gather methinks.

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804387)

Ain't no solutions: we cannot stop a volcano from erupting and our options to reduce the damages are limited, mostly to evacuation of the affected areas. Regardless what a multitude of quaint SF and disaster movies have deluded you into believing, when Nature shits on us we drown in shit, we can only move people away and rebuild. And with the economy being what it is, we probably can't do even that. Science and technology are lame, Nature reigns over us forever.

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47805721)

I have heard the theory about nuking the volcano just before a suspected eruption as an attempt to seal the crust over it. RUN if they try it! Too much pressure under this one.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (4, Interesting)

niftymitch (1625721) | about a month ago | (#47802705)

Wow ... there is a lot of talk about the Yellowstone volcano. Do the authorities know more than they are saying to the public? Why all of the sudden interest in Yellowstone? Is an eruption imminent and we are not being told?

As a geologist the impact, size and risk of Yellowstone has been an ongoing learning experience.

Yellowstone like large eruptions and large asteroid impacts are global game changers.
Any that wake up in the morning and think about this get concerned.

Both issues invoke magical thinking... we could make the problem go away by -________-.

What we do know is that historic eruptions did blanket North America with ash,
we also have some decent data about how many and how often and when we
might be due...

The un-interesting bit is the mumble foo about a computer program. Some think
this is adding to the knowledge but the reality is hand drawn maps from
20 years ago tell the same OMG KYAGB story.

Add regions of Indonesia to the list right along side the Mammoth Mtn. caldera in California.

These game changing big events are well beyond any FEMA planning.
Have a good cup of tea and enjoy the fireworks.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0, Offtopic)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47802751)

isnt this what happened in pompeii? everybody got buried. that was what, 2000 years ago? what would be especially bad is if tehre were a big volcanic eruption and an emp blast at the same time, so all our electronic resources went down when we needed them most!

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (3, Insightful)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a month ago | (#47802857)

Yeah, like, how much would it suck to be in a deadly car crash and get struck by lightning, like, at the same time, doood??!

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47803515)

it's possible that an emp could trigger a volcano, so it's not as crazy as it sounds. car crash and lightning aren't connected, you're just trolling me.

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (1)

dave420 (699308) | about a month ago | (#47806151)

[citation needed]

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (-1, Troll)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47806839)

here you go [wikipedia.org] so you don't have to google it yourself. you're welcome!

Re: Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47807359)

I saw that movie, war of the worlds right?

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47802869)

isnt this what happened in pompeii?

No. Pompeii was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow [wikipedia.org] , which is only a danger in the immediate vicinity of the eruption. The danger from Yellowstone is that it could blanket much of the continent with ash.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

Kiffer (206134) | about a month ago | (#47803373)

isnt this what happened in pompeii?

No. Pompeii was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow [wikipedia.org] , which is only a danger in the immediate vicinity of the eruption. The danger from Yellowstone is that it could blanket much of the continent with ash.

Well... my understanding is that Pompeii was covered in hot falling ash over a period of about 6 hours, Herculaneum was hit by pyroclastic flows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47803379)

i think if there were a pyroclastic flow heading toard me I would hop in my pool and hold my breath at the bottom. then after the heat wave had passed I would climb on my roof so I don't get buried by the ash. would that work?

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (2)

Nimey (114278) | about a month ago | (#47803635)

You're trolling and not actually that stupid, right?

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803639)

No.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804923)

You'd need to hold your breath for a considerable amount of time. I hope you brought a scuba tank -- and have a really deep pool, because it's not unlikely that the pool would boil empty in a very short time.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a month ago | (#47805015)

i think if there were a pyroclastic flow heading toard me I would hop in my pool and hold my breath at the bottom. then after the heat wave had passed I would climb on my roof so I don't get buried by the ash. would that work?

No, it would just turn you into a delicious pool sized bowl of soup.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47806867)

there's so much heat content in the pool I doubt that if the surface air went to 500 degrees for a bit it would make much difference.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a month ago | (#47803163)

...The un-interesting bit is the mumble foo about a computer program. Some think this is adding to the knowledge but the reality is hand drawn maps from 20 years ago tell the same OMG KYAGB story.

Right!
They could have saved a bunch of time and money with:

#!/usr/bin/perl
print "You are well and truly fucked!\n";

Game changing big events beyond any planning? (5, Insightful)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a month ago | (#47803701)

Our current economic system has created existential risks by discounting the risks of centralization and just-in-time production and just-barely-works systems without huge margins of resiliency. One tragedy-in-the-making example is the USA recently selling off its emergency strategic grain supplies.
http://ppjg.me/2010/11/12/usda... [ppjg.me]
http://articles.latimes.com/20... [latimes.com]

The USA could as a nation be putting in place a more distributed resilient production system (including indoors food production or even space habitats) to ensure the safety of its citizenry even under huge unexpected disasters. The USA has chosen not too because it does not fit with the current economic dogma that discount such "black swan" existential risks. Hurricane Katrina is an example of failure to systemically plan for obvious serious weather-related risks, Given that example, it is unlikely we can expect the USA to plan for even rarer risks like supervolcanoes, solar flares, pandemics, rogue AI technology, asteroid strikes, economic meltdown, civil war, or whatever else. Still, if you add up all the rare risks, taken together, the probability of some sort of "black swan" event may not otherwise be as rare as one might expect -- and they can all be addressed to some extent by creating a more resilient decentralized infrastructure and promoting more cooperation among people (rather than competition).

I find that situation frustrating because I find issues about resiliency to be very interesting civil defense problems to think about (e.g. my OSCOMAK idea), but the current notion of national security is focused on intrinsic unilateral military might, not intrinsic mutual resilient security. The "Lifeboat Foundation" and "The Living Universe Foundation" though are examples of some groups that have concerns in this area -- but with little funding and lots of competition for that funding compared with the effectively trillion US dollars a year the USA spends (or effectively incurs) annually for military-oriented defense.

Like George Orwell said:
http://blog.gaiam.com/quotes/a... [gaiam.com]
"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, is possible to carry this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield [or a three foot deep ash field...]"

A resilient infrastructure coincidentally is also more compatible with "democracy" since there can't be real political democracy without some level of financial and material independence for the citizenry. At least the Maker movement is a bit of hope there. As are the changing economics of indoor agriculture given LED lights and robotics, even without potentially cheaper energy supplies if either hot fusion or LENR/QuantumEnergy/ColdFusion turns out to be workable.

Re:Game changing big events beyond any planning? (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a month ago | (#47803715)

Typo: That should have been "*extrinsic* unilateral military might" not "intrinsic unilateral military might". Extrinsic means the security comes by extrinsically having soldiers defending supply lines, not intrinsically having local systems that can produce what you need or that can take a pounding.

Re:Game changing big events beyond any planning? (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about a month ago | (#47803947)

Our current economic system has created existential risks by discounting the risks of centralization and just-in-time production and just-barely-works systems without huge margins of resiliency. One tragedy-in-the-making example is the USA recently selling off its emergency strategic grain supplies. .......

Good stuff except that the Yellowstone volcano risk is vastly bigger than any emergency grain supply we ever considered.

We are not talking about a regional disaster but one so big that with the modern population and population distribution
we would be well and goodly firetrucked.

You point is spot on if we consider lesser but still massive disasters. Most folk consider disaster planning of three days
food and water to be a difficult investment. A continent wide disaster with spill over to other continents needs to address
decades or more.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803735)

One of the interesting points is that the modern human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) have never witnessed full Yellowstone eruption. Even the Neanderthal human was barely here. If Toba eruption is anything to compare to, the event will push human evolution - cultural if not biological - to a new area.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a month ago | (#47804219)

These game changing big events are well beyond any FEMA planning.

Planning or not, FEMA will always do a Heck of a Job

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802821)

We're doomed if Yellowstone erupts within the next 500 years or so... we've known that for many decades. It'll be back to the Dark Ages for mankind, or worse.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47802945)

Yes. They found gold, and now they don't want everybody and his uncle setting off with a tin pan to Idaho.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about a month ago | (#47803677)

Wow ... there is a lot of talk about the Yellowstone volcano. Do the authorities know more than they are saying to the public? Why all of the sudden interest in Yellowstone?

Because people got tired of hearing about extinction-level asteroids... The Yellowstone Supervolcano was just the next ready standby to scare the public and get more viewers. I suppose it was the Y2K thing that taught the media herd that terrifying the public with BS is profitable, and they've kept it up ever since.

Sure, we've got Ebola now, but it's not as visual and a bit more mundane than the crazy and exotic ways to end civilization that the media finds most profitable.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47805201)

Because people got tired of hearing about extinction-level asteroids...

People evaluate everything under the point of view of a single, selfish, emotional being with a limited life span experience. We, as a species, should know better. Extintion-level events are real and we are ill-prepared to face them, even when we know about them and we have the means and the knowledge to be prepared.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | about a month ago | (#47806791)

I just heard Phil Plait talking about coronal mass ejections [slate.com] wiping out satellites and the power grid, and possibly small electronics as well. That's my current favorite non-asteroid doomsday scenario. No direct danger to life or limb, it just takes out everything that makes modern civilization work. Hilarity ensues.

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month ago | (#47805157)

Are the officials buying gold, firearms, and agricultural land on other continents at an increased rate? If the answer is "yes", start doing the same as soon as possible!

Re:Do they know more than they let on? (1)

necro81 (917438) | about a month ago | (#47805947)

[crunches pickle]This is wild [youtu.be] . This is really wild!

The government knows all about this, man! Maybe you should read up about it on my blog [youtu.be] .

it's a blueprint (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a month ago | (#47802631)

for terrorists to plant a low yield bomb in Yellowstone and get a high yield result!

Re:it's a blueprint (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a month ago | (#47804771)

No, if Yellowstone is not ready to blow already I doubt the biggest atomic bomb we could make would set it off, almost certainly not one on the surface.

Pleasantly Surprised (4, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a month ago | (#47802643)

That the Title does not read: 'New Model Predicts You're Doom' Or: 'Volcano Going to Rain Death on Eastern America'

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802889)

I'd be upset if it said "you're doom," too, but probably not for the same reason as you.

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802939)

I'd be upset if it said "you're doom," too, but probably not for the same reason as you.

QFT. Dr. Doom hates being outed, especially by stochastic models.

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803229)

I assume he's referring to this incident from the amazing show Frisky Dingo:
http://www.adultswim.com/videos/frisky-dingo/doom

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803601)

doom2 owns you.

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803035)

'Bitcoin-Financed Raspberry Pi Generates 3D Printout of Imminent Yellowstone Caldera Destroying Mankind; MPAA Claims Exclusive Rights'

Re:Pleasantly Surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803973)

No, I'm Doom!

these computer models (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802649)

Are never accurate

Re:these computer models (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803001)

Are never accurate

Quiet! Don't let them hear your heresy! This is settled science!

Oh wait, this isn't a global warming thread, is it? Nevermind then... carry on spreading the truth unimpeded.

300 Miles context (3, Informative)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a month ago | (#47802659)

Putting that into context, a circle with the radius of 300 miles produces an area 282743 mi^2 or 732301 km^2. Which is moderately bigger than Texas and about 10% of the area of the continental USA.

Re:300 Miles context (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802709)

Putting that into context, a circle with the radius of 300 miles produces an area 282743 mi^2 or 732301 km^2. Which is moderately bigger than Texas and about 10% of the area of the continental USA.

It could smother Texas? Oh, that would be nice if a volcano smothered Texas with ash! It would surely make US politics much more sane!

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802729)

Putting that into context, a circle with the radius of 300 miles produces an area 282743 mi^2 or 732301 km^2. Which is moderately bigger than Texas and about 10% of the area of the continental USA.

It could smother Texas? Oh, that would be nice if a volcano smothered Texas with ash! It would surely make US politics much more sane!

I was just reading some of the comments above about relieving the pressure and thought that people were treating this as if it is like some big huge zit to squeeze the pus out of. Now that you have likened it to Texas I am beginning to see where they are coming from on this.

Re: 300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802741)

So, do we move Texas to Yellowstone or vice versa?

Re:300 Miles context (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month ago | (#47802885)

Can we have that in football fields please?

Re:300 Miles context (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a month ago | (#47802981)

About 140 million

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803019)

Shit. How are we going to watch all those games?

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803247)

Northamerican football or World football? Or Austroyan Rules, Mate?

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802913)

A bit more context. 282,743 sq. mi. is 9.06% the size of the Contiguous United States (3,120,426.47 sq mi / 8,081,867.46 sq km), or 7.47% of the total land area of the continental USA (3,785,810.51 sq mi / 9,805,204.21 sq km), and 7.43% of the total U.S.A. territory (3,805,943.26 sq mi / 9,857,347.79 sq km). (Source: List of U.S. states and territories by area [wikipedia.org] )

Re:300 Miles context (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about a month ago | (#47802979)

Putting that into context, a circle with the radius of 300 miles produces an area 282743 mi^2 or 732301 km^2. Which is moderately bigger than Texas and about 10% of the area of the continental USA.

Im sorry, but the context is insufficient. How many libraries of congress is it?

Re:300 Miles context (2)

fermion (181285) | about a month ago | (#47803075)

To put it into more context, the area we talking about is so sparsely population that is should be classified as frontier and not a state. The real, short term damage, is most going to be agricultural. However long term any eruption is going to beneficial as the climate changes and the area becomes even more important important for agriculture.

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803435)

To put it into more context, the area we talking about is so sparsely population that is should be classified as frontier and not a state.

Quite a bias there. I suppose Canada shouldn't be a country, nor Australia, nor Russia, nor most of the countries in South America, Africa, and central Asia.

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804131)

I'd hate to be one of the ~40,000 people in Bozeman [wikipedia.org] if Yellowstone erupted. It's only 90 miles away.

Re:300 Miles context (1)

lgw (121541) | about a month ago | (#47804415)

I think you're off by a few orders of magnitude. This would be a much bigger deal than the year without a summer [wikipedia.org] , which caused mass starvation. The short term damage would be a significant percentage of everything starving to death. There would be next to no crop land left in all of North America for decades, perhaps centuries. Depending on how much ejecta there was, it might well tip us over into the next ice age (well, technically, the next glaciation period in the ongoing Quaternary ice age).

And if you're worried about climate change, a bit of warming's got nothing on the damage the return of the glaciers would do.

Re:300 Miles context (2)

careysub (976506) | about a month ago | (#47806215)

I think you're off by a few orders of magnitude. This would be a much bigger deal than the year without a summer [wikipedia.org] , which caused mass starvation. The short term damage would be a significant percentage of everything starving to death. There would be next to no crop land left in all of North America for decades, perhaps centuries.

It is worth noting that currently the world only maintains a 74 day supply of grain. A super-eruption of this kind would effectively shut down agriculture everywhere. About half of the world's grain is directly consumed as food, so if we immediately divert all grain use (feed lots, fuel and industrial use, etc.) to direct basic food use we could double that to 148 days, then we run out completely.

Of course this ideal model of even distribution is not reality: poorer places and food importers run out much faster, richer and food producing places would last longer - maybe a year? But the dramatic cooling which prevents crop production would probably last a number of years. All of the major food crops are sub-tropical species whose productivity are very sensitive to temperature. Even after the period of outright crop failure ends, productivity will be reduced. And as lgw states, the grain belt in the U.S. (~15% of world grain production) would be out of production entirely long after the direct cooling from the ash dissipated.

Another reference point is the Great Famine of 1315-1317 [wikipedia.org] presumably caused by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in New Zealand, which ejected about 6 cubic kilometers of ash, only 0.6% of a Yellowstone super eruption. The Great Famine resulted from two years of crop failure, with normal food supplies not being restored until 1325. Depending on region 10-25% of the population of Europe died. (The Black Death showed up 22 years later, the poor health of those who lived through the famine perhaps contributing to its development and toll.)

It would be safe to estimate that the majority of the world's population would die, probably a large majority.

Re:300 Miles context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47806517)

the area we talking about is so sparsely population

Wow, you be speaking most goodly.

BBC Supervolcano model (3, Interesting)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about a month ago | (#47802787)

I loved the neat 3D simulator the BBC fabricated for their docudrama Supervolcano [youtube.com] . After the run one of the geologists (played by Gary Lewis) says, "[laughing] That's great... and if frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their little green asses hoppin' around, eh? [...] You're letting yourself be spooked by a video game!"

Great TEOTWAWKI drama, decent science, I recommend it: Supervolcano Ep1 [youtube.com] , Supervolcano Ep2 [youtube.com] , and the companion factual documentary Supervolcano.The Truth About Yellowstone [youtube.com] which re-uses CGI footage made for the drama between interviews.

Re:BBC Supervolcano model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803235)

Thanks, it was nice to see that again.

Ash 3D (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about a month ago | (#47803951)

Ash 3D?

"See this? This... is my BOOM STICK!"

Very old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47802801)

This is ancient news and Ash3D doesn't really bring anything new to the table in terms of data. Although it is a neat way to visualize the ash coverage, but in no way does it predict if it's going to have a little burp or let out a massive belch.

Wait. Wasn't this already simulated... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a month ago | (#47802839)

...back in 2009 [wikipedia.org] ?

Food, water, climate change (2)

myid (3783581) | about a month ago | (#47802901)

An article [agu.org] by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) briefly mentions climate change, but the article is mostly about how much ash that would fall on the continental US. The article also says, "... multiple inches of ash can damage buildings, block sewer and water lines, and disrupt livestock and crop production ...".

Those are my main concerns - Ash on the ground disrupting the production of food and clean water and getting them to people, and ash in the atmosphere causing climate change.

If yellow stone blows (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a month ago | (#47802965)

How many miles away you are and how much ash you get will be the least of your concerns.

Once the ash cloud encompasses the globe, we all freeze/starve to death within 10 years anyway. Unless someone comes up with a way to clean the air out before its too late, then how far away you are will matter..

Re:If yellow stone blows (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a month ago | (#47803143)

How many miles away you are and how much ash you get will be the least of your concerns.

Once the ash cloud encompasses the globe, we all freeze/starve to death within 10 years anyway. Unless someone comes up with a way to clean the air out before its too late, then how far away you are will matter..

Won't affect me. I don't believe in global cooling either.

Re:If yellow stone blows (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a month ago | (#47803189)

Won't impact anyone.

10 years? We'll all have long past starved to death. Yellowstone blowing big is a mass extinction event, period, for many species. It's probably safe to say that most large carnivores, globally, wouldn't survive.

Re:If yellow stone blows (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a month ago | (#47803207)

Won't impact anyone.

10 years? We'll all have long past starved to death. Yellowstone blowing big is a mass extinction event, period, for many species. It's probably safe to say that most large carnivores, globally, wouldn't survive.

Maybe it's the Rapture.

Re:If yellow stone blows (2)

hierofalcon (1233282) | about a month ago | (#47804323)

No, not the rapture. But it could create conditions that are described in passages of Revelation post-Rapture.

Re: If yellow stone blows (2)

ovit (246181) | about a month ago | (#47803401)

It erupts every 600 thousand years... While things like bears are probably somewhat different over that span, they certainly could not have evolved completely in that time.. Which to me means there must be plenty of survivors when this occurs.

Re: If yellow stone blows (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a month ago | (#47806599)

It erupts every 600 thousand years... While things like bears are probably somewhat different over that span, they certainly could not have evolved completely in that time.. Which to me means there must be plenty of survivors when this occurs.

The hot spot moves over time.

Re:If yellow stone blows (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a month ago | (#47804797)

It's probably safe to say that most large carnivores, globally, wouldn't survive.

But they'd have a great time eating all of the herbivores that die of starvation ... at least until they run out.

Important Data Omitted (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a month ago | (#47803165)

The article does not make clear who wants the funding that this scare story is supposed to generate.

300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47803259)

At 300 miles, the largest city that'll get hit will be Billings, MT. Population 110K.

I'm not saying it won't be fairly devastating to lots of small towns in lower Montana, Wyoming and parts of Idaho and Utah.

But a vast swath of that is essentially nowhere.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a month ago | (#47803349)

But a vast swath of that is essentially nowhere.

Not counting the huge amount of our food that comes from those places.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47804681)

But a vast swath of that is essentially nowhere.

Not counting the huge amount of our food that comes from those places.

From Wyoming? Seriously. The majority of Wyoming's income is mineral production and tourism. Sure, tourism is going to take a whopping hit for a while. And the mines will probably see a short term hit.

(Note: Unless the eruption is especially destructive. Then, there's a lot more to worry about than a few feet of ash.

One of the BIG hits would probably be the short term effect on coal mining. Illinois tends to import much of its coal (yes, one of the largest coal producing states in the union IMPORTS coal) from Wyoming. This is because most of the coal produced in the state has a high sulfur content (which can lead to acid rain). And most of the coal-fired plants in the state aren't outfitted to properly burn such coal. As Illinois is also one of the top 5 energy EXPORTERS, this could have trickle-down effects.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a month ago | (#47805883)

From Wyoming? Seriously.

Well, you did say, "Montana, Wyoming and parts of Idaho and Utah" ... which is more than Wyoming. Lots of cattle throughout those four states. Lots of agriculture in Idaho, timber in Montana. Anyway, those states together produce just under 10% of the grain and ranch output we consume - many billions per year worth. Considering the just-in-time nature of the country's food supply, loss of it would be very non-trivial. We're also talking about herd destruction, which would have a lasting impact beyond the immediate absence of what would be going to market at any given time. That sort of destruction would quite suck, and we're not even talking about the industries that are present in places like Salt Lake City. Let's hope it just doesn't happen any time soon.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

dumuzi (1497471) | about a month ago | (#47803365)

I happen to live in bumblefuck you insensitive clod.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47804647)

I happen to live in bumblefuck you insensitive clod.

Well then! You have my condolences!

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803433)

In other words, you value some people's lives less than others.

How ugly.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47804665)

In other words, you value some people's lives less than others.

How ugly.

Nononono. You're misreading.

Now, if Yellowstone goes *Poof* and puts down 3 feet of ash in the appropriate area, we're talking maybe a million people who're dealing with 3 feet of ash.

That's basically 1/3rd of the population of Chicago (one city).

Re: 300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803567)

Guy from Idaho Falls here. Probably the second largest city in the swath. This confirms what we already know: if Yellowstone goes off we are all dead

Re: 300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuc (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47804713)

Guy from Idaho Falls here. Probably the second largest city in the swath. This confirms what we already know: if Yellowstone goes off we are all dead

If it goes off BIG, yeah, lots of people are going to die and ash is a VERY distant secondary concern.

If, however, it just burps a huge ash cloud and suffers a minor eruption, yeah, life in your area is going to suck. Hooverishly.

Re: 300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804187)

And nothing of value will be lost.

Re:300 miles. Basically, lots of ash in bumblefuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47806667)

Because, as everybody knows, dealing with a covering of ash less than three feet has no impact whatsoever.

I'd like to know the radii for two feet, one foot, six inches, three inches and one inch coverages before we dismiss this as only a problem for people in the boonies.

Here is a map that shows the ash coverage. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803315)

http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm?clat=44.427963&clng=-110.58845500000001&r=482.8032001844076&lc=FFFFFF&lw=1&fc=00FF00&fs=true

Re:Here is a map that shows the ash coverage. (4, Informative)

argStyopa (232550) | about a month ago | (#47805581)

First, I'm not sure if you made that yourself, or what, but that's just a circle of X radius around Yellowstone - that might be useful if the Earth had no atmosphere, I guess?

Prevailing winds and jet stream guarantee a more distributed pattern downwind, significantly different than a simple circle.

BTW, the original article is missing pretty much anything of substance, and is written atrociously: "...In the Midwest, a few centimeters of ash is projected to be plummeted while coastal cities will have a few millimeter of ash buildup..."
"...to be plummeted..."?

AN ACTUAL MAP FROM ASH 3d:
http://cdn.phys.org/newman/gfx... [phys.org]

And an actual article that explains that whole "sciencey" stuff:
http://phys.org/news/2014-08-y... [phys.org]
Their slightly more substantive version of the above paragraph:
"...In the simulated modern-day eruption scenario, cities within 500 kilometers (311 miles) of Yellowstone like Billings, Montana, and Casper, Wyoming, would be covered by centimeters (inches) to more than a meter (more than three feet) of ash. Upper Midwestern cities, like Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Des Moines, Iowa, would receive centimeters (inches), and those on the East and Gulf coasts, like New York and Washington, D.C. would receive millimeters or less (fractions of an inch). California cities would receive millimeters to centimeters (less than an inch to less than two inches) of ash while Pacific Northwest cities like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, would receive up to a few centimeters (more than an inch)...."

Don't worry... only a computer model (2, Funny)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about a month ago | (#47803345)

Since computer models and simulations are rarely 100% precise one can ignore them. See climate models. There is no climate change and probably no Yellowstone volcano either. Probably not even a place with the name 'Yellowstone'.

Re:Don't worry... only a computer model (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a month ago | (#47803555)

Even if you can simulate every atom in the atmosphere for such a situation, we are talking about fluid dynamics! The least predictable thing not really known to man or god. Best you can do is guess general trends for short periods of time or in the case of climate models, you have to get extremely general to be at all accurate.

This is worse than accurately simulating a human brain and ending up with intelligence (without preloading a living brain scan; even so, it would be silly to think the machine would predict YOU. just as an instant clone of you would diverge from you.)

Re:Don't worry... only a computer model (0)

pipingguy (566974) | about a month ago | (#47803669)

...in the case of climate models, you have to get extremely general to be at all accurate.

Or just do 25 different model runs with different inputs and then pick the one that came closest to actual measurements. Then say, "See? Computer climate modelling is valid!".

Simulations are science at work. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a month ago | (#47805057)

Simulations are loosely similar to doing unit testing in programming.

The random chaos involved is not purely random; just way way beyond human comprehension. The statistical patterns may exist in the noise to be discovered someday - no, it won't describe the system in any reproducible way but it will increase accuracy for increasingly detailed predictions. Accuracy is inversely related to the level of prediction. We don't know the curve between these two without a great deal of work. Think of breaking encryption, brute force can be impractical but if you apply statistics (finding weakness patterns) you greatly reduce the amount of work guessing (huge understatement, you go from billions of billions to just thousands.)

I remember the models for my region, all but 1 said we'd get more rain and that 1 said it would be the same. None of them said less rain. We've had more rain as predicted by the simulation (the span was about a decade, it was climate not weather prediction I'm citing here.) Also, if they ran 25 (I think it was just 4) and most were correct - then it was a good simulation. If just 1 matched reality, it is still a good simulation! The problem is when no simulation remotely matches the outcome; then you have a LOT of work to do. Like I said, it's fluid dynamics, the longer it runs and the more detailed the greater the parallel universe of possible outcomes.

Climate change:
It's extremely general and obvious ever since they figured out Venus. Then it was figuring out how much heat... and after that the complex predictions so we know how much is too much. That is done too. What we are doing now is trying to get even more detail for some reason; which probably has to do more with money and political long term planning at this point. So we have ignorant people dismissing the solved problems while citing the extraneous work as it approaches the limits of understanding. Bringing up weather prediction is even more extreme in the ignorance.

You know this stuff wouldn't be controversial if we lived on the moon... planetary and climate science wouldn't apply to us and upset certain people.

Re:Don't worry... only a computer model (1)

fygment (444210) | about a month ago | (#47806065)

".. extremely general to be at all accurate ..." Just think about that and what it means. Now think a bit harder.

You also have to know what assumptions are made in the model to 'generalise' it.

And you have to know just how 'fragile' the mode is, how does it hold up to deviations, perturbations.

And then after you've run the model a hundred times and it matches closely the training data (there has to be some), you really have no idea of how it performs as a predictive model.

No shame in that because that is the nature of scientific exploration. BUT you are the fool if you bet your money or your life on it.

Re:Don't worry... only a computer model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803757)

However, scientists have confirmed the existence of Jellystone Park [youtube.com] .

Ah Ha USGS Colorado (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47803559)

Looks like the first impact of legal weed on the "Science" establishment at UC.

Well, it will be funny watching the dooms day pronouncements of the USGS against those of the "Sea Level" Group.

Ah. Now that has been a funny to me for years. How is it that a University in the near-middle of a continent has a
"Sea Level" Group?

Seems madness just by logic, but perhaps that is a hallmark of University Colorado.

Tee Hee

No Map? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804383)

I cant find a map. I would think that a map of some sort would be useful in a story like this.

Computer model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804625)

10 PRINT"BOOM!";
20 GOTO 10

This will end badly for Vanessa Ferguson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47804953)

and even worse for Pickles

story (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a month ago | (#47805139)

Anyone interested in a halfway decently written adventure story built on the basis of the Whole Yella blowing might look into the Ashfall trilogy:
http://www.amazon.com/Ashfall-... [amazon.com]

I just hope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47805699)

I just hope that at least Russia has collapsed before the Yellowstone volcano destroys the USA. Then China will take us forward :)

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