Posted on May 18th, 2010
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.
Anyway... Happy anniversary Mt. St. Helens!!