Yellowstone super-volcano eruption could happen

Two-thirds of the US could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2011, 19:03 PM IST

London: The super-volcano beneath the Yellowstone National Park in US would detonate with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980.

This is the nightmare that scientist predict could happen if the world`s largest super-volcano erupts for the first time in 600,000 years, as it could do in the near future

Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10 feet deep up to 1,600 kilometres away, researchers say.

Two-thirds of the US could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes, the Daily Mail reports.

The Yellowstone Caldera (volcanic feature formed by the collapse of land following an eruption) is one of nature`s most awesome creations and sits atop North America`s largest volcanic field.

Yellowstone caldera has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years and researchers monitoring it say we could be in for another eruption.

They said that the super-volcano underneath the Wyoming park has been rising at a record rate since 2004. Its floor has gone up three inches per year for the last three years alone, the fastest rate since records began in 1923.

But, hampered by a lack of data, they have stopped short of an all-out warning and they are unable to put a date on when the next disaster might take place.

When the eruption finally happens it will dwarf the effect of Iceland`s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which erupted in April last year, causing travel chaos around the world.

The University of Utah`s Bob Smith, an expert in Yellowstone`s volcanism told National Geographic: "It`s an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high."

IANS