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Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Dave!Thirty years ago, Mt. St. Helens erupted, spewing ash all over the Pacific Northwest. And even though there's a mountain range and 200 miles between the eruption site and where I live, we still got blasted. I remember the eruption in the news quite well. I remember scooping ash out of the yard. I remember rain making a big ol' pasty mess on the lawn. But what do I remember most of all?

The Doomsday Clock.

At the time of the ash-plosion, some wacky scientist guy went on television to warn the world that the eruption of Mt. St. Helens was a mere warm-up to other eruptions far more disastrous. Including the Yellowstone Caldera SUPERVOLCANO!

Well, they didn't actually use the term "supervolcano" back then, but the concept is the same...

Sitting under Yellowstone National Park is a mind-bogglingly massive lake of magma that's under enormous pressure. Many geologists say that it is now overdue to erupt. And once it does, there will be devastation unlike the world has seen in hundreds of thousands of years. In addition to the vast amounts of ash released, the lava dome will collapse into itself, spewing lava for hundreds of miles and initiating killer eartquakes that would ravage the Western United States. Anybody within 200 miles of the caldera would die immediately. Those within 600 miles would be suffocated to death by the ash plume.

But it gets worse.

The amount of material released into the atmosphere by a supervolcano would cause a "volcanic winter" that would affect the entire world. Scientists generously estimate that 90% of the human race would not survive it. And those that do will have an unimaginably difficult existence plagued by famine and disease. I feel "lucky" that I'm living in the kill zone, because sudden death seems the best-case scenario here.

Hence "The Doomsday Clock," because it's not a matter of if but when Yellowstone blows.

Granted, that might not be for a 100,000 years yet, but it was so much more dramatic for the wacky scientist guy on television to insinuate that it was just around the corner.

Which it could be.

Or not.

Anyway... Happy anniversary Mt. St. Helens!!

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  1. Erin says:

    Well that’s…cheery.

  2. Suebob says:

    Thanks for putting happy thoughts in my head right before I go to sleep.

  3. Sarah says:

    From the point you mentioned doomsday clock all I heard was Gir singing the doom song.

    Doom, doom, doom.

  4. B.E. Earl says:

    Yeah, I’ve been telling people for years now that Yellowstone is gonna be the death of us all. Old Faithful? More like Old Harmful, amirite?

    That’s how I deal with impending doom. I make ridiculously awful jokes.

    At least you don’t have to worry about the mega tsunami that is one day going to wipe out the eastern coast of the US when part of the the Canary Islands falls into the ocean after a volcanic explosion. That’s gonna suck.

  5. delmer says:

    I see you’re all rainbows and unicorns this morning. 🙂

    Just last week, or the week before, I saw something on Yellowstone and the super volcano that lives beneath it. It was interesting enough that my watched it with me.

  6. Barnmaven says:

    No point in going to work, today, is there?

  7. Finn says:

    I could have gone… my whole life without knowing that.

    I choose to be ignorant. It’s blissful.

  8. Poppy says:

    Happy anniversary to my favorite explosive lady!!!!

  9. Sybil Law says:

    Sink holes and now stupid Yellowstone to worry about.. thanks! 😛

  10. Laura says:

    That’s positively terrifying!
    I was only 6 when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, so I don’t have any horrible memories to go along with it. However, I was forced to sit and watch hours of Nostradamus’ prophecies throughout my childhood. Scarred for life!

  11. RW says:

    As is said.. well thanks, you really laid a lot of sunshine down on that one.

  12. A. Lewis says:

    What a day. And I can’t believe that you’re possibly old enough to remember WAY BACK then.

  13. martymankins says:

    When I was in Spokane in 1983, I saw quite a bit of ash that was underneath bushes, window wells and various other places. Even over 3 years later, I was amazed at all of the places I found traces of volcanic ash.

  14. So, I followed that wikipedia link and wouldn’t you know it, I got totally caught up in supervolcanos & reading about the Yellowstone Caldera and thinking about our pending doom if one of those things erupted. A good way to start the day actually.

  15. karla says:

    I always read your blog to uplift my spirits.


  16. Tug says:

    Holy cow, it’s been 30 years. Makes sense, I was living in Eastern Montana, my daughter was 4 months old. We couldn’t go outside without our faces covered for a week or so.

  17. Iron Fist says:

    I’m not too worried about that Doomsday Clock as long as we have Dr Manhattan on our side.

    Wait…he left Earth for Mars? Oh, shit…

  18. Semky says:

    Yeah, so I was kinda down today and thought that a typically witty, intelligent post by Mr. Simmer would be just the ticket to at least a few minutes of escape … or something. Now I’m waiting for the explosion and making sure my hot cup o’ tea is far enough away from me so as not to get scalded when it comes!

  19. muskrat says:

    Holy shit! This reminds me of that time I lay on my belly with diarrhea for a day. I did a lot of staring at the clock, and people definitely suffocated.

  20. josh says:

    Dante’s Peak [feat. James Bond]?!

  21. Tracy says:

    I’m so glad to be living in Wyoming right now. Within spitting distance of Yellowstone. Not scared now. Nope. No way.

  22. christopher stogdill says:

    I saw this book you might find amusing…or depressing. It was called Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead.

    I don’t get anything if you buy the book, just posting a link in case someone wants to see it. I find it interesting that the Kindle version is a whopping 1 cent cheaper than the softcover.

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