Practice English Speaking&Listening with: This Super Volcano Has Scientists Freaking Out

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Deep beneath Yellowstone National Park and its picturesque hot springs lurks a monster

of unimaginable proportions, waiting in a very fitful slumber and ready to wipe humanity

off the face of the earth.

Directly under the national park, one of the most visited in the world, likes a plume of

liquid magma five miles deep, itself fed by a huge plume of molten rock that boils up

from deep beneath the earth's crust.

The churning magma directly beneath Yellowstone is so voluminous that it regularly causes

the entire national park to rise and fall by inches at a time.

From time to time the pressure beneath Yellowstone gets to be too much, and a volcanic eruption

occurs- although overwhelmingly these are relatively minor and are comparable in size

to a moderately sized, traditional volcano.

However, every 600,000 years or so the pocket of magma beneath Yellowstone builds up so

much pressure that the entire park explodes outwards, in an incredibly violent event known

as a supervolcano eruption.

Such an eruption can have widespread consequences for the entire earth, enveloping the planet

in volcanic ash and plummeting global temperatures, causing a small ice age which can decimate

all life.

In North America though extinction is all but guaranteed, and we should thank our lucky

stars that these super eruptions happen so rarely.

Yet today scientists have confirmed that Yellowstone can, and will, blow its top in a super eruption

by the end of this year, 2019- or at any time in the next 400,000 years.

By discovering geologic evidence of past Yellowstone eruptions, scientists have been able to pinpoint

three major eruptions, with the first being 2.1 million years ago, the second 1.3 million

years ago, and the third 630,000 years ago.

This has led some scientists to predict that Yellowstone is likely to blow again in the

next half million years or so, meaning that it could happen as soon as tomorrow.

It could happen by the time you finish watching this video.

Or it could happen later today, when you're on your way to the store.

Boom- you're trying to buy some snacks and instead you get the extinction of the human


Point is, Yellowstone is trying to kill all of us and it could happen at literally any


But as many scientists point out, three data points is far from sufficient for establishing

a reliable pattern.

Right now Yellowstone seems to have a recurrence interval of between 500,000 and 1 million

years, which would put us overdue for a major eruption.

Yet with only three data points the previous eruption cycles could have been abnormalities,

and not an actual pattern.

Yellowstone might never explode again, instead maintaining low-level volcanic activity until

the North American tectonic plate slides away from the bubble of hot magma under Yellowstone.

Or, Yellowstone could be waiting for you to fall asleep tonight, to murder you and everyone

you love in your sleep.

There's just no way to tell with such little data.

If- or when- Yellowstone blows though it's going to be one for the record books, if there's

any humans left alive to keep records.

The last eruption 640,000 years ago ejected 1,000 cubic kilometers of material, enough

to bury all of Texas five feet deep in volcanic ash.

By comparison, one of the largest eruptions in the modern age happened when the Novarupta

volcano blew its top in 1912, resulting in 13 cubic kilometers of material.

That's basically the difference between a hand grenade and a 2,000 pound bunker busting


But what if Yellowstone woke up tomorrow and decided it was sick and tired of all the tourists

taking selfies atop its head?

What if at last Yellowstone punched our ticket and did its best to wipe out the entire human


Imagine you're visiting the most famous national park in the world with your family.

You're all excited to see Old Faithful, because watching hot water shoot up into the air is

apparently the neatest thing since sliced bread.

Grudgingly you tag along though, and when you get to the hot springs you have to admit

that they are kind of beautiful.

Thanks to specialized bacteria that live in the really acidic and extremely hot water,

the springs are colored in a rainbow explosion of colors, and you can't help but snap a selfie

up against a backdrop that looks like a giant vomited skittles all over the landscape.

But as you're lining up the perfect selfie, you suddenly feel the ground underneath you

start shaking.

It's over in a second though, so you figure meh, whatever, just a small quake.

Then though, there's another mini quake, and then a third.

Suddenly Old Faithful in front of you explodes in a showery display of superheated water-

but there's a problem, it's early.

Like, really, really early.

Typically the park rangers predict when old faithful will blow based off the height of

the previous eruption and its duration, but it's been just a few minutes and suddenly

here she is again, spewing hot water 100 feet into the air.

Something's not quite right, so you and your family decide to make a semi-calm dash for

the car.

You're a pretty smart cookie, you do subscribe to The Infographics Show after all, so you're

aware that the swarm of mini quakes could be bad news.

Very, very bad news.

As you start making your way to the park exit, you do some reading up on Yellowstone and

come across a host of articles online all saying that there's been a massive amount

of earthquakes in the area over the last couple months.

What you don't realize however is that all of those earthquakes have been the result

of a massive bubble of magma slowly making its way to the surface, riding along that

five mile plume deep beneath the earth.

As the magma was forced upwards, it triggered swarms of earthquakes for months which all

rumbled and shook the rock directly above it, shattering them and paving the way for

an eruption.

You make it to the park exit when suddenly there's a major earthquake, much bigger than

anything before.

To your horror the earth cracks open all around you, and rivulets of magma start streaming

out from several dozen places around the park.

The road you're on splits and cracks, leaving impassable crevices and holes- cars are officially

useless, so you do what seems like the logical thing and get out and start running.

You're not sure where to run to exactly, but your brain has a pretty good idea that 'away'

is as good a direction as any.

As you pump your feet though the earth rumbles one final time, and suddenly, the Yellowstone

caldera explodes outwards, no longer able to resist the incredible pressures building

from below.

For you, the story is over here.

If you're caught in the actual explosion then your body, down to the bones, will become

part of the giant ash cloud belching up into the sky.

Magma up to 2400 degrees (1300 Celcius) incinerates your body, but not before the superheated

and very toxic gases that envelop you fry your lungs to carbon.

Death is instantaneous, with the incredible heat boiling your brain in milliseconds, and

causing your skull to explode outwards from the build up of steam.

Congratulations, because you're officially one of the lucky ones.

For the rest of us, Yellowstone has a much longer, lingering death in store.

Volcanic explosions rock an area of about 40 miles (64 km) or so, ejecting millions

of tons of lava.

Volcanic ash made up of pulverized rock and jagged shards of glass makes its way into

the atmosphere, where the winds begin to spread it around to the surrounding countryside in

an almost perfect umbrella shape.

Over the next few weeks a whopping 240 cubic miles (386 cubic km) of ejecta is spit out

by the Yellowstone volcano, though only about a third of it makes it into the atmosphere.

That's more than enough however to bury the entirety of the Northern rockies in an astonishing

three feet of ash.

Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Utah are all paralyzed by the extremely acidic


Residents of these states begin to die by the thousands due to inhalation of the ash,

which fills the lungs and suffocates, but also cuts and lacerates the lungs and trachea

thanks to the very sharp and jagged particles of glass.

Venting of highly noxious gases across the 40 mile eruption zone also spreads suffocating

and toxic gas across hundreds of miles of terrain, making its way into the underground

shelters of the few survivors who lived through the initial explosion.

Hydrogen sulfide and other gases kill tens of thousands in their sleep, silently suffocating


The three feet of ash also paralyze industry and travel.

Roads are impassable, and the very fine ash wreaks havoc in vehicles, damaging electronics

and gumming up even the most robust engines.

Emergency services are effectively shut down, and air travel in the region is impossible.

Anyone caught in the area of the northern rockies is doomed, with no hope for escape.

To make matters worse, the ash also wends its way into rivers and lakes, even down into

subsurface aquifers, and there it poisons the water.

Millions of thirty survivors are forced to drink brackish water which slowly poisons

them, killing them in a matter of weeks or even days.

In a few days the ash clouds move over the midwest, and lay down thick carpets of black

ash half a foot thick.

By day four of the eruption no air travel across the heart of the United States is possible,

and here too the ash paralyzes all forms of ground transportation as well.

Power plants shut down, their equipment damaged by the ash clouds or starved of the oil or

gas they need to operate thanks to a nationwide traffic shut-down.

To make matters worse, the midwest grows the majority of the US's crops, and the thick

ash suffocates all vegetation.

Here too the ash poisons water supplies, and clean drinking water becomes an extreme rarity.

By the end of the week an inch or two of ash has fallen on both the east and west coast.

Despite being so close to Yellowstone prevailing wind patterns have prevented much of the ash

from making its way to California and other west coast states, although now they find

themselves with two inches of dangerous volcanic ash.

The fine particles wreak havoc on electronics, and much of America's modern infrastructure

is destroyed.

Just about every drinking source in the United States is contaminated to some degree, and

FEMA rushes to try and provide decontamination kits to a surviving population of three hundred


The rest of the world breathes a sigh of relief- they have after all avoided the biggest bullet

in the history of mankind.

Yet what they don't realize is that the Yellowstone eruption has put millions upon millions of

tons of sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere, and these begin to reflect sunlight back into


Within weeks the entire planet is wrapped in a cloak of sulfuric particles, and so much

sunlight is being reflected back into space that global temperatures drop by a degree.

At first, the planet barely notices- the temperature drop helping to stabilize global warming trends

thanks to mankind's carbon emissions.

But over the following weeks the temperature drops even more.

The Pinatubo eruption in 1991 cooled the planet by .7 degrees (.4 Celsius), and the Tambora

eruption of 1815 lead to what was termed the year without summer, causing widespread crop


Yellowstone's eruption is many, many times greater than either of those two, and now

temperatures drop so low that winter officially lasts for eighty years- a prediction based

off the effects of two previous eruptions.

Mankind digs in for an eighty year Game of Thrones LARP event, because winter is officially

here and it's not leaving for eight decades.

Some regions of the planet may remain habitable, and crops may be sustainable in small numbers

along the equatorial regions of the planet.

However, the vast majority of humanity will die off, and those that survive will quickly

learn to stay out of direct sunlight no matter how cold they are.

Thanks to those same sulfuric aerosols that brought us seasons 9 through 89 of Game of

Thrones, the ozone layer is so damaged that harmful UV radiation bakes the planet, causing

sunburn within minutes.

Eventually the ozone layer will restore itself, and the environment will return to a normal

state- but in all likelihood both of those things will happen far too late for our technologically

dependent species to survive.

Yet it's important to remember that terrifying as this scenario is, scientists are reasonably

sure that there's little reason to worry, as Yellowstone may never erupt again.

Or, it could erupt tonight, while you're sleeping.

Like we said, there's just not enough data points to know for sure.

How would you try to survive a Yellowstone eruption?

Think we could find a way to vent the pressure on the giant supervolcano and save ourselves?

Let us know in the comments!

And as always if you enjoyed this video don't forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more

great content before Yellowstone kills us all!

The Description of This Super Volcano Has Scientists Freaking Out