A NASA thought experiment called, Defending Human Civilisation From Supervolcanic Eruptions, stated that a supervolcano eruption was more likely to happen in the future than an asteroid hitting the earth, according to the Daily Star. It said: “Supervolcanic eruptions occur more frequently than a large asteroid or comet impacts that would have a similarly catastrophic effect to human civilization.” Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers found that collisions from asteroids which are more than 2km in diameter occurred “half as often as supervolcanic eruptions”. A supervolcano is classed as a volcano which is big enough to cause an eruption which could project more than 1000 km3 of material into the atmosphere.
Yellowstone Caldera is classed as a supervolcano which erupted 60,000 years ago and again 60,000 years before that.
Although there is no guarantee, if the volcano follows the same pattern then it is now due for another eruption.
Researchers have found that if a supervolcano like Yellowstone did erupt, then a “volcanic winter” would ensue which could surpass the “amount of stored food worldwide”.
People living on another continent would not be spared from the aftermath of a supervolcanic eruption.
The phrase “supervolcano” was introduced to describe eruptions capable of “plunging the world into a catastrophe and push humanity to the brink of extinction” according to researchers.
However, volcanologists claim most volcanoes display warning signs weeks before they erupt.
US Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program coordinator John Eichelberger told Life’s Little Mysteries: “These signs may include very small earthquakes beneath the volcano, slight inflation, or swelling, of the volcano and increased emission of heat and gas from vents on the volcano.”
He continued: “Rising magma causes solid rock to break, sending earthquake signals.
“This pushes the ground surface upward, and boils off hot gas that travels ahead of the magma.
“Most volcanoes give warnings signs beginning weeks or months before they erupt.”
However, even if a supervolcano did display warning signs, researchers predicted it would cost a massive $3billion (£2.3billion) to try and cool down the magma before it erupted using current technology.