OK...I found this article in the paper today, and it freaked me out....so if you get freaked out easily don't read on, found it fascinating. I don't know who does or doesn't know about it but guessing many Americans know of it already, but the first I had heard of it.
Volcanic Holocaust - Herald-Sun, Melbourne, Adrian Tame.
THE next great threat to the United States' world dominance may come, not from terrorism, but from deep within the majestic splendour of one of it's national parks.
A volcano, 40,000 years overdue for an eruption that could threaten mankind's future, lies smouldering beneath Yellowstone National Park.
A leading expert on hazards facing the planet has predicted it could blow at any time.
If and when it does, all life within an 800km radius would be destroyed, and the ash produced will block out the Sun, producing a form of much-feared nuclear winter that has the capacity to destroy mankind.
Even if the US survived the blast, there is little doubt it's period of global dominance would end, leaving the way open for another superpower, possibly China, to reign unchallenged.
While experts have plotted the likely environmental fallout from the eruption, the political ramifications have recieved less attention - perhaps because they are so unthinkable.
Professor Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Center in London, said the dormant Yellowstone volcano had erupted on average once every 600,000 years.
The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, so the next one is overdue.
Experts monotoring seismic activity within the park became alarmed last year when the ground grew unusually hot and thermal springs became more volitile.
This led to a temporary closure of the park.
Experts called in to discover the causes of these phenomena found a 700m-long bulge beneath Lake Yellowstone.
They calculated it had already risen 30m from the lake floor, and could explode at any time.
Not long afterwards, the University of Utah detected an earthquake, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, 500m beneath Earth's surface, only 15km from the park.
The university believes this could be interpreted as the early signs of further seismic activity.
Unlike the volcanoes of Indonesia, the Yellowstone monster was discovered only recently.
Sattelite pictures taken in the 1960's showed a crater 80km long and 50km wide, crammed with molten rock.
The last comparable super volcano eruption was 75,000 years ago in sumatra. It's ash blocked out the sun for a considerable period, and, scientists believe, reduced the planets population to a few thousand.
More recent, smaller volcanoes have included Tamora, Indonesia, which killed 90,000 people in 1815, and Krakatoa, also in Indonesia, which killed 36,000 in 1883.
US geologist Michael Rampino has sounded a disturbing warning about Yellowstone: "It's not a question of when, because sooner or later one of these super eruptions will happen."
Professor McGuire echoed the warning saying: "1000 cubic kilometers of lava would pour out of the volcano - enough to coat the whole of the USA with a layer 10cm thick. The explosion would be the loudest noise heard by man for 75,000 years."
"There's nowhere to hide from the effects of a super volcano. One day, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in 50 years, perhaps in 10,000 years, it will erupt, bringing the bitter cold of volcanic winter to planet earth. Mankind may become extinct."