Let's call it Area One. It's the 600-mile radius around the Yellowstone Caldera. Bill McGuire, professor of geohazards at University College London, considers a 600-mile radius to be deadly space during even a minimal supereruption. "Within a thousand kilometers, virtually all life would be killed by falling ash, lava flows, and the sheer explosive force of the eruption."
A quick and dirty calculation of counties included in Area One's 600-mile radius shows a current population of 19.8 million (estimates by the federal Census Bureau dated 01 July 2005). Unprepared, the vast majority of those will likely be dead or dying in the first days of a Yellowstone supereruption.
By recent scientific calculations using seismic data, the volume of Yellowstone's 80 x 40 x 8 km magma chamber is about 20,000 to 25,000 cubic km -- about 4800 to 6000 cubic miles. If Yellowstone 4 blows out just a quarter of its magma, the 1200 cubic miles spewed will be the largest known supereruption. Yellowstone 1, aka Huckleberry Ridge, about 2 million years ago, was 600 cubic miles of ejecta. Sumatra's Toba, about 74,000 years ago, was 720 cubic miles of ejecta. 1200 cubic miles of ejecta would be 4800 times St. Helens' 1980 blast. And it could happen tomorrow.
The actual size and date of the next Yellowstone supereruption is beside the point. The point is that our politicians have intentionally kept ordinary people unprepared. They want us to shop till we drop. Zero preparation is the point. Unprepared, a Yellowstone supereruption tomorrow, or twenty years from now, will be the nonfeasant murder of tens of millions of ordinary Americans -- by politicians of both parties, done in the corruption kickbacks and greed that fuel the superrichs' obscenely excessive profits.
Zero preparedness threatens everyone living within 600 miles of Yellowstone. However, that specified radius -- from an interview of several geologists for a February 2000 BBC program -- has apparently been branded "alarmist" by Monkeybrain's regime. The map showing the 600-mile-radius -- what I'm calling 'Area One' -- is credited to the US Geological Survey on the Discovery Channel's site, but no longer appears on the USGS site. What does appear on the USGS site is a lot of no-worries pap stacked wide and deep.
Civil defense, once a robust arm of civil society but eviscerated for decades by the bought and paid for majority of superrich-representing politicians, is now FEMA's job. FEMA is where Monkeybrain's fascist goosesteppers are doing a heck of a good job securing their wardrobes and careers -- and not saying or doing anything to offend the Business Roundtable, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, or the unconstitutional, privately-owned, and treasonous Federal Reserve.
Despite the BBC programs on supervolcanoes that aired February 2000 and April 2005 -- and the executive summary presented to the FEMA hierarchy by the BBC and the program's scientists after the 2005 program -- FEMA still does not publish any preparedness guidelines for a supereruption.
Despite FEMA's blind eye, the Yellowstone supereruption will not go away if we ignore it long enough. It is going to happen.
We have three supervolcano caldera in the western US. All of them are due to past-due. The Yellowstone Caldera, the Long Valley Caldera (SE of Yosemite in California), and the Valles Caldera (just west of Los Alamos, NM). Although the Valles Caldera is not as restless as the other two (which are currently making about 3,000 earthquakes per year), they are all capable of equaling Yellowstone 3 (240 cubic miles of ejecta). Continent-covering ash fall would be a killer component of any of their supereruptions. If just one goes off, the unprepared US and the whole world is in deep doo-doo.
Sumatra's Lake Toba supereruption, 74,000 years ago, caused a volcanic winter that probably lasted about six years. The evidence appears in ice cores taken from Greenland. The following thousand-year cold snap took the planet into the Ice Age that ended only 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. One supereruption. 64,000-year hangover.
Another downside. Many imminent scientists are considering scenarios in which multiple natural disasters of cataclysmic proportion are triggered in chain reactions -- by a space rock or space-rock storm, or one of the events themselves. A Yellowstone supereruption, a Long Valley supereruption, the San Andreas lock-up NW of Los Angeles cutting loose, the Cascadia Subduction Zone lock-up cutting loose on the NW coast, and lahars (hot volcanic mudflows) from Mt. Rainier devastating the southern Puget Sound area (into Tacoma) without much warning and without signs of a conventional eruption stand out as one glaring possibility of multiples.
Such chain reactions seem very reasonable. A storm of space rocks 1 km to 1.5 km in diameter (the dinosaur killer at Chicxulub is estimated at about 10 km in diameter) could blow out craters deep enough to explosively open either or both Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas to the atmosphere, easily leading to the chain reaction.
However, multiples are beyond the scope I've set here. Planning for a Yellowstone supereruption seems a good starting point for multiples preparedness. If we know what to do with the Yellowstone Area One, we'll know what to do with a Long Valley Area One.
Unprepared, we face communications failure, health care overload and breakdown; food and water contamination and scarcity; livestock death; food processing plants breakdown; mass starvation; residential cave-ins from ash load; masses of desperate homeless refugees; long-term loss of road and air transport to ash-fall effects; loss of prescription meds distribution; loss of petro-fuel processing and distribution -- just to name some of the problems.
Unprepared, the death toll inside Yellowstone Area One will be 10 to 20 million. We should expect the short term death toll outside Area One to be more tens of millions.