report

Supervolcanoes Around the World

Supervolcanic Activity

Steamboat geyser erupts in Yellowstone, site of a massive supervolcano.
Steamboat geyser erupts in Yellowstone, site of a massive supervolcano. | Source

What is a Supervolcano?

A volcano which erupts and throws magma and rocky particles over an area greater than 240 cubic miles (1000 cubic kilometers) is considered a supervolcano. These massive eruptions dwarf typical volcanic eruptions. It is like comparing a small shock from static electricity to a lightning bolt: Mount Vesuvius produced 100,000 cubic yards of magma per second during its massive explosion in A.D. 79. The damage from this "ordinary" volcano was legendary. If Mount Vesuvius had been a supervolcano, it would have produced 100 million cubic yards of magma per second.

Yellowstone National Park is a famous supervolcano. The last time Yellowstone erupted, 640,000 years ago, the ash blanketed an area from California to Minnesota. If Yellowstone were to erupt again, the ash would be thick enough to collapse roofs on houses in neighboring states. The loss of life would be massive: Tens of thousands of people would die from the immediate eruption and pyroclastic (lava) flow. Respiratory difficulty caused by ash in the air would kill still more people. Supervolcanoes also affect global temperature in an immediate and profound way: when Mount Tambora blew its lid in 1815, the subsequent year was called "eighteen hundred and froze to death," or "the year without summer." This event occurred during an era dubbed the "Little Ice Age," which was a period of global cooling that extended from approximately 1350-1850. Scientists have not come to a consensus of dates with regard to the Little Ice Age, and NASA currently states the event occurred between 1550-1880, with three distinct periods of cooling. The volcanic winter created by Tambora exacerbated the cooling trend for the next year.

As supervolcanoes go, Tambora was a big. The Volcanic Explosion Index (VEI) rates volcanic activity on a scale from 0-8. Hawaii's Mount Kilauea is a 0 on this index, with a constant, gentle flow of magma. Mount Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens had a VEI of 5. Tambora had a VEI of 7, the largest volcanic explosion in the modern era.

Volcanic Explosion Index (VEI)

VEI
Description
Frequency
Stratospheric Injection
0
Effusive
Constant
None
1
Gentle
Daily
None
2
Explosive
Weekly
None
3
Severe
Few months
Possible
4
Cataclysmic
>1 per year
Definite
5
Paroxysmal
> 1 per decade
Significant
6
Colossal
>1 per century
Substantial
7
Super-Colossal
>1 per thousand years
Substantial
8
Mega-Colossal
>1 per ten thousand years
Substantial
An example of a volcano with a VEI of 0 would be Kilauea in Hawaii. Yellowstone and Toba are examples of volcanoes with a VEI of 8.

Mount Tambora

Mount Tambora in Indonesia.
Mount Tambora in Indonesia. | Source

The Most Recent Supervolcano Explosion

A sleeping volcano on an island east of Java began to wake on the morning of April 5, 1815. The first eruption was loud enough to be heard as thunder by people living over 800 miles away. Tambora's first eruption was minor compared to what happened next.

On April 10, 1815, the island of Sumbawa exploded in Indonesia. The column of ejecta shot 28 miles into the air. The mountain lost 4,100 feet of height when its top literally blew off. The volcano shot 12 cubic miles of magma into the air, and an estimated 92,000 people immediately lost their lives.

As the ash circled the earth, global temperatures plummeted. Snow fell in England and Canada in June, and frost was ever-present through the summer. Snow and ash fell into European rivers, causing Typhus outbreaks. The loss of crops in Europe also led to starvation - approximately 200,000 people died of Typhus and hunger in the year 1816, as a result of Tambora's explosion.

Supervolcanoes cause global cooling: in Tambora's case, a fine layer of sulfur dioxide gas in the stratosphere reflected the heat of the sun, which caused temperatures to plummet on the earth's surface. The sulfur dioxide gas combines with water in the upper atmosphere and forms sulfuric acid: this attacks the ozone layer, causing further damage to our planet's climate control system.

Supervolcanoes in the United States

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Long Valley Caldera in California. The last explosion occurred 760,000 years ago.The Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado has massive ash formations - the last explosion was 27 million years ago.The Valles Caldera in New Mexico, as seen from space.The Yellowstone Caldera, as seen from space.
The Long Valley Caldera in California. The last explosion occurred 760,000 years ago.
The Long Valley Caldera in California. The last explosion occurred 760,000 years ago. | Source
The Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado has massive ash formations - the last explosion was 27 million years ago.
The Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado has massive ash formations - the last explosion was 27 million years ago. | Source
The Valles Caldera in New Mexico, as seen from space.
The Valles Caldera in New Mexico, as seen from space. | Source
The Yellowstone Caldera, as seen from space.
The Yellowstone Caldera, as seen from space. | Source

Supervolcanoes in the United States

There are several supervolcano sites in the United States - all in the western half of the country. Yellowstone in Wyoming and Montana is the most famous -and potentially dangerous - since its magma pockets have been filling since the last eruption. Other sites include:

  • Long Valley Caldera, California
  • La Garita Caldera, Colorado
  • Valles Caldera, New Mexico

The Long Valley Caldera in California lies next to Mammoth Mountain, a popular ski resort. The supervolcano last exploded 760,000 years ago in an explosion so vast it caused the volcano's magma chamber to collapse. Ash covered all of the western United States. In 1980, an earthquake swarm started a new era of activity for this supervolcano. A dome-shaped area of land increased in height by 10 inches, and the area is monitored by the Volcano Hazards Program - a division of the United States Geological Survey. An escape route was created and named the "Mammoth Escape Route," though business owners complained that the road would scare away potential customers. The road was renamed the "Mammoth Scenic Loop," though its purpose is to serve as an emergency escape route if the volcano shows signs of imminent activity.

The La Garita Caldera produced one of the largest known eruptions on earth. Located in Colorado, the volcano deposited 1,200 cubic miles of magma approximately 27 million years ago. The caldera is 22 miles wide by 47 miles long. This supervolcano is considered extinct, but the evidence of its eruption created the Wheeler Geologic Monument and Fish Canyon Tuff.

The Valles Caldera in New Mexico had an explosion 50,000-60,000 years ago. As supervolcanoes go, it is on the small side. The area has hot springs and geothermal activity and is home to a healthy population of elk. Several films have been shot in the area, including The Missing starring Tommy Lee Jones (2003).

Where is the Yellowstone Volcano?

The main caldera lies under Yellowstone Lake. Geologists Girard and Stix (2012) have identified three zones in the caldera that pose the greatest likelihood of eruption. Zone 1 is along a fault line, Zone 2 is between the Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth (a water-driven eruption could occur here), and Zone 3 is along another fault line under Yellowstone Lake.

In 2004, the ground over Yellowstone's caldera began to rise. The elevation has been increasing by as much as 2.8 inches per year, though scientists do not believe the swelling magma pocket signals an imminent eruption. The magma pocket is 6 miles below the surface, which reduces the danger considerably. The magma chambers under Yellowstone have cyclic periods of inflation and deflation, though continuous records of geological activity were not maintained until the 1970s.

The park is monitored continuously for earthquake swarms and elevation changes. Live information about earthquake activity in the park can be found here.

Geothermal Activity in Yellowstone

Shallow magma pockets are responsible for the geothermal activity seen in the park today.
Shallow magma pockets are responsible for the geothermal activity seen in the park today. | Source

Supervolcanoes in the United States

show route and directions
A markerLa Garita Caldera, Colorado, USA -
La Garita Caldera, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado 81130, USA
get directions

B markerYellowstone National Park, USA -
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
get directions

C markerLong Valley Caldera, California, USA -
Long Valley Caldera, Inyo National Forest, California, USA
get directions

D markerValles Caldera, New Mexico, USA -
Valles Caldera, New Mexico 87025, USA
get directions

Phlegraean Fields Volcano

Solfatara Volcano in Italy.
Solfatara Volcano in Italy. | Source

Activity in the Phlegraean Fields

A supervolcano exists in Naples, Italy. The Campi Flegrei, or Phlegraean Fields, is surrounded by a dense population.

The last eruption was in 1538, in an event known as the Monte Nuovo eruption. An increase in seismic activity heralded renewed activity in the area, with over 20 earthquakes felt the day before the actual eruption.The ground over the caldera rose quickly, with elevation changes of over 22 feet reported in a single night. Magma and water were ejected into the air on September 29, and a 403 foot volcanic cone (Monte Nuovo) was created within a single week. As activity died down, the new volcanic cone provided local interest. Intrigued, people came to see the newly formed volcano - on October 6, 1538, several visitors were killed when another explosion occurred. The volcano then settled and all subsequent activity has been in the form of a fumarolic vent (the emission of steam and gasses from the earth's crust).

In late 2012, significant activity was noted in the Phlegraean Fields. Swarms of earthquakes have been noted in the area, along with a lift of approximately 2.76 inches over the past year. An increase in temperature has been noted at the fumaroles. Is the Campi Flegrei gearing up for another eruption?

It is impossible to tell, though the area is continuously monitored. The International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme will drill 2.2 miles underground to monitor activity in the area. The drilling will be done near Pompei in 2013.

Supervolcano in Italy

A markerCampi Fleigrei, Italy -
Campi Flegrei, 80078 Pozzuoli, Province of Naples, Italy
get directions

Supervolcanoes in Asia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A simulation of the Toba eruption, which occurred 74,000 years ago.Baekdu Mountain in North Korea.Mount Aso, part of the Aira Caldera in Japan.
A simulation of the Toba eruption, which occurred 74,000 years ago.
A simulation of the Toba eruption, which occurred 74,000 years ago. | Source
Baekdu Mountain in North Korea.
Baekdu Mountain in North Korea. | Source
Mount Aso, part of the Aira Caldera in Japan.
Mount Aso, part of the Aira Caldera in Japan. | Source

Asian Supervolcanoes

Several supervolcanoes exist in Asia, including:

  • Toba in Indonesia
  • Tambora in Indonesia
  • Baekdu Mountain on the border of North Korea and China
  • Aira Caldera, Japan
  • Kurile Lake, Russia
  • Karymshina, Russia

Mount Toba, located in Indonesia, is responsible for a catastrophic eruption approximately 74,000 years ago. The largest eruption in over 2 million years, the supervolcano covered India, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf in 3-15 feet of ash. A volcanic winter followed the eruption, lasting for approximately a decade. A thousand years of global cooling followed the incident, which nearly wiped out the human race. According to the bottleneck theory, only 3,000-10,000 individuals survived the effects of Mount Toba - the theory is disputed, however, and the reason for the remarkable lack of diversity in the human genome may lie in other causes.

Mount Tambora, previously discussed, delivered a VEI 7 eruption in 1815 and caused a volcanic winter in the following year.

Baekdu Mountain, on the border of China and North Korea, also experienced a VEI 7 eruption in the year 969. The caldera is now filled with Heaven Lake, and the central section of the mountain has been increasing in elevation due to a filling magma chamber.

The Aira caldera in Kyushu, Japan was created 22,000 years ago in a massive eruption. Japan's most active volcano, Sakurajima, is fueled by the magma chamber of the Aira caldera.

Kurile Lake is an ancient supervolcano in Russia, and exploded in 6440 B.C. with a VEI of 7. The volcano has been dormant ever since. The most active volcano in Kamchatka Penninsula, Karymsky is situated near Kurile Lake. The near-constant eruptions from the volcano have turned the large fresh-water crater lake into one of the world's largest acidic lakes.

Supervolcanoes in Asia

show route and directions
A markerLake Toba, Indonesia -
Toba, Indonesia
get directions

B markerTambora, Indonesia -
Mount Tambora, Indonesia
get directions

C markerBaekdu Mountain, North Korea -
Baekdusan
get directions

D markerMount Io, Japan -
Mount Aso, Kurokawa, Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan
get directions

E markerKurile Lake, Russia -
Laked Kurilskoe Keuai, Kamchatka Krai, Russia
get directions

F markerKyushu, Japan -
Kyushu, Nishiyunoura, Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-2304, Japan
get directions

G markerKarymshina, Russia -
Karymsky, Kamchatka Krai, Russia
get directions

Pastos Grandes Crater

Laguna Pastos Grandes, in the center of an ancient supervolcano in Bolivia.
Laguna Pastos Grandes, in the center of an ancient supervolcano in Bolivia. | Source

South American Supervolcanoes

The Pacana Caldera in Chile was formed approximately 4 million years ago in a VEI 8 explosion. The caldera is 43 miles wide by 22 miles long, and a few warm springs are in the area. The area is sparsely populated.

One of the best exposed calderas in the world, Cerro Galan is located in Argentina. Like the Pacana Caldera in Chile, the supervolcano is ancient and was formed 2.2 million years ago. The caldera houses the remnants of a crater lake, though the water is now restricted to the western edge of the caldera and is very salty.

In Bolivia, the Pastos Grandes Caldera was responsible for a VEI 7 eruption approximately 2.9 million years ago. A crater lake named Laguna Pastos Grandes exists in the caldera.

Supervolcanoes in South America

show route and directions
A markerPacana Caldera, Chile -
Pacana Caldera, San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta Region, Chile
get directions

B markerCerro Galan, Argentina -
Galán - Catamarca Province, Argentina
get directions

C markerPastos Grandes Caldera, Bolivia -
Pastos Grandes Caldera, Bolivia
get directions

Canadian Supervolcano

The Bennett Lake supervolcano complex is located in British Columbia. The site is ancient and erupted 50 million years ago: the supervolcano is extinct and exists in the Coast Mountains. The caldera is located under the western portion of Bennett Lake.

Supervolcano in Canada

A markerBennett Lake Volcanic Complex -
Bennett Lake Volcanic Complex, Yukon, Unorganized, YT Y0B, Canada
get directions

Taupo: New Zealand Supervolcano

Lake Taupo sits in the crater of a supervolcano on New Zealand's north island.
Lake Taupo sits in the crater of a supervolcano on New Zealand's north island. | Source

Supervolcanoes in New Zealand

Lake Taupo is one of the world's great supervolcanoes. The most recent eruption was 26,000 years ago, when a VEI 8 eruption ejected 727 cubic miles of volcanic material into the air. THe event is known as the Oruanui eruption. Taupo is currently dormant, and tends to have an eruption once every thousand years or so.

Macauley Island is located halfway between New Zealand and Tonga, and is an ancient (submerged) supervolcano. The last eruption was in approximately 4360 BC.

New Zealand Supervolcanoes

show route and directions
A markerLake Taupo, New Zealand -
Lake Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand
get directions

B markerMacauley Island, New Zealand -
Macauley Island, New Zealand
get directions

New Supervolcanoes

The earth is a dynamic planet, and new volcanoes (and supervolcanoes) are constantly forming. Two continent-sized piles of rock are moving toward each other under the Pacific Ocean. The colliding masses will produce a "hot spot" the size of Florida. The molten material is 1,800 miles under the earth's surface, and the collision will occur near Samoa. Fortunately, the extinction-level event won't occur for another 100 million years or so, as it takes a very long time for the masses of magma to move and create enough force for an eruption.

More by this Author


Comments 55 comments

Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 3 years ago from Northern California

Hi leah,

Very well written! Great pictures. And the maps were a nice touch. I didn't know that there were so many supervolcanoes.

I do have one small quibble. Most science buffs refer to the much longer cold snap that ended around 1850 or so as the Little Ice Age. (The post-Tambora volcanic Winter was a double whammy.)

A lot of people don't know about the longer LIA, because the Warmies like to pretend that it never happened (and that the Medieval Warm Period never happened), in order to make the ho-hum warming from 1979 to 1998 seem more important than it really was. *steps down from soapbox*

Voted up and interesting.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

That is a very good point, Larry. I'll have to adjust the article to state that the Tambura volcano happened to explode during the 1350-1850 period of time when several cold snaps occurred. I re-read the paragraph and it sounds like the 1815-1816 Tambora event was the LIE, and it was only a minor event in a longer period of global cooling.

Some of the volcanoes on the maps are typical composite volcanoes or cinder domes that exist on a larger caldera. The Aira caldera in Japan has several smaller, active volcanoes in the immediate area. Most of the eruptions are small, but when the entire caldera blows, you get a supervolcanic eruption.

As a side note, there is a great deal of debate over the Toba event and genetic bottlenecking. Some state the volcanic winter caused a massive loss of life and the survival of only 3,000-10,000 humans, but others disagree and believe the lack of genetic diversity is due to other causes. There is a great deal of research to be done in this area!


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Awesome article, well researched, and on a subject I love. Thank you for the hard work.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Thank you, LillyGrillzit. It is a fascinating subject - the Phlegraean Fields in Italy have been experiencing a lot of activity lately - hopefully the area will settle down, as Naples is heavily populated!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great topic! I learned so much from this article. Very well done resource.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Rose! I am sort of glad we live on the opposite side of the country as Yellowstone, though it would have an effect on the entire globe if it blew.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for all the interesting facts and the great details, Leah! This hub is a great source of information about supervolcanoes.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

So interesting and thank you for sharing.

Eddy,


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

There is an impressive number of supervolcanoes on earth, AliciaC - thank goodness many of them (like the one in Canada) are extinct. Thanks for the comment!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

I'm glad you found it interesting, Eddy!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Leah, some of this information is a big scary. I enjoyed the read and learned some really interesting facts. New Volanoes? Wow! Very well done. Voted up and across.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Our earth is a very dynamic place, Teaches! Don't worry about the new massive supervolcano, though - 100 million years is a LONG way into the future. Yellowstone or Campi Flegrei is a more immediate threat.. though these may never blow in our lifetime. I hope they don't blow in our lifetime, anyway!


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

Fascinating. I've heard of Krakatoa as a huge volcanic eruption. Was it a supervolcano, or, like Pompeii, a big ordinary volcano with an attitude and a reputation?


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Krakatoa was big - but not a supervolcano. It had a VEI of 6, which is pretty massive. It caused tsunamis that wiped out a lot of lives - while not classed with the supervolcanoes, it was a very big eruption with devastating consequences. Honestly, Sid, I wouldn't want to be around any volcano when it blew!


CZCZCZ profile image

CZCZCZ 3 years ago from Oregon

What an awesome hub. This was interesting to read through and the videos are great. These super volcanoes are just wild and so massive, just incredible.


adity5 profile image

adity5 3 years ago

Very informative post..loved reading it from beginning to end :)

Thank you for sharing !!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, CZCZCZ! We used to ski frequently at Mammoth Mountain in California, and I never realized it was part of the Long Valley Caldera until we took an all-mountain tour and the guide took us by a geyser that exists on the mountain. I certainly hope all of the supervolcanoes in our world stay dormant for a long time to come!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

I am always fascinated by the earth's geological processes, adity5. I really hope to take our family to Yellowstone one day soon - it is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I find volcanoes to be very fascinating, and have watched documentaries on Super Volcanoes before. This is a very informative and well-laid out article, and I enjoy the photos. Thank you for sharing this with us, and congrats on HOTD!


starstream profile image

starstream 3 years ago from Northern California

I enjoy geology and find your article very informative. How is jade formed? I have an appreciation for many of these gemstones and enjoy hearing about their history.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

Leah - congrats on Hub of the Day! I loved this hub when I first read it. And now it has exploded and become a super-hub!

I understand your desire to avoid exploding volcanoes, but, actually, a visit to an active volcano on Hawaii is one of my biggest life dreams.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

I love volcanoes, too, Kathryn. We used to camp in Arizona and visit the Sunset Crater park near Flagstaff - I loved climbing over the lava fields and exploring the ice caves in the area. While it isn't a supervolcano, the lava fields were fascinating and sparked an interest in geology.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

I love geology, starstream. We often go on fossil hunts and enjoy searching for rocks in our local area. Jade is so beautiful - it is a metamorphic rock. There are actually two forms - we have cute little jade carvings from china (nephrite form) for each of our two sons - one is a pig and one is a rooster, since these are the Chinese years our boys were born.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Sid, I desperately want to visit Kilauea - visiting the Big Island of Hawaii is one of my dreams, too. We have been to Kauai and to Oahu, but never to the main island. Hawaii is so absolutely gorgeous - I really hope you make it someday! Thanks for the congrats!


moronkee profile image

moronkee 3 years ago

When I read this hub, it reminded me of Pompeii. Thanks for writing it and we all have to be alert and watchful.


madscientist12 profile image

madscientist12 3 years ago from Columbia, SC

Great hub! I didn't know very much about volcanoes and this article really gave me some interesting information. It's also well written and I love the maps.


TravelinJack profile image

TravelinJack 3 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

I was hearing that if Yellowstone went up it would take out something like a quarter of the US! Great hub, voted up!


MelonieGilchrist profile image

MelonieGilchrist 3 years ago

This is a lot of great information. I didn't realize that there were so many super volcano's in the world. Excellent pictures! Very well written.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

A very informative hub. I still worry about Yellow Stone's volcano and the cycle, I believe is about to run its course again for another eruption.


Rusticliving profile image

Rusticliving 3 years ago from California

Wonderfully written hub Leah. I had no idea that the Yellowstone supervolcano could bring on such a massive path of destruction if erupted as before. Coming from Hawaii, I am very familiar with Kilauea as my family lost valuable land because of it's constant flow. Thank you for a great hub. Voted Up+UABI and shared----Lisa


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Congratulation on HOTD. I'm always fascinated by super volcanoes. Enjoyed your hub. Voted up. I saw a TV show on the Yellowstone super volcano.


baja2013 profile image

baja2013 3 years ago from Sarajevo, Bosnia

Really HOTH! Love vulcanoes and stories about it. I would like to ask about Etna, Italy. It's active and what is general forecast for it? I am just few hundreds kilometers from there (Sarajevo) so should I be worrie about it?


LeTotten profile image

LeTotten 3 years ago

Really interesting hub! I am fascinated by these volcanoes and wonder when they will erupt again. It seems that eventually they will because that is what they do, right?


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

What an outstanding hub! So well researched and documented, and a very compelling topic. Volcanoes and other disasters are interesting to me, so I was glued to your information here. Very deserving of the HOTD - congratulations! Voted way up!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Volcanic eruptions can cause major catastrophes, even when the volcano is not a supervolcano. Fortunately, modern geological services monitor seismic activity so we can have an early warning system, moronkee! Yellowstone has a website with live earthquake data - it is interesting to see how many small earthquakes are recorded there each day.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

I love maps, madscientist12...it is interesting to see how many of the supervolcanoes are clustered along the Pacific Rim.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

This is the one time I am glad to be on the East Coast, TravelinJack! We are not in Yellowstone's immediate impact zone. If Yellowstone blows in a cataclysmic eruption, however, the entire globe will be affected with temperature changes and ash in the atmosphere.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

There are a lot of supervolcanoes, MelonieGilchrist! Fortunately the South American volcanoes are largely extinct, but there are plenty of active ones along the Pacific Rim. New ones are always forming, too!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Yellowstone is "due" for an explosion, though the time tables on these events vary widely, whonunuwho. Hopefully it will hold out for another few hundred thousand years! There has been uplift under Yellowstone Lake in recent years, so scientists keep a close eye on it.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Kilauea shows that even a "mild" eruption can cause damage to property and even loss of life, Rusticliving. I am sorry for your family's loss of property, and hopeful that no one was hurt when the magma flowed across their property!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Yellowstone is frequently featured on television specials as it is a massive supervolcano and probably the most well-known of the group. The Campi Flegrei is another area to keep an eye on, as it erupts on a fairly regular basis and is surrounded by a very populated area! Thanks for the comment, moonlake!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Mt. Etna is called a "decade" volcano, baja2013.. it is one of the world's most active. While it has a low VEI (ranging from 1-3 on the scale, depending on the eruption), it is still destructive and those living near its flow area should pay attention to warnings and evacuate if necessary. Etna is not a supervolcano, but any volcano can be deadly and should be treated with caution.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

It is certain that a supervolcano will erupt again - though no one has a timetable on when that will occur. The Campi Flegrei in Italy has been particularly active in recent years. Thankfully we have monitoring equipment that will (hopefully) give people enough time to evacuate if an eruption is imminent, LeTotten!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Thank you, Marcy - I find volcanoes fascinating, along with earth's other phenomena. I certainly hope all of our supervolcanoes stay dormant for as long as possible, as the consequences of an eruption would be devastating locally and would have global consequences!


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hi leahlefler! Volcano always fascinates me as it is volcano and its continuous activities which makes life possible in this earth. I sometimes takes its as the formatting tool of earth. Your hub is very interesting and informative.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Volcanoes continuously make new land mass, pinto2011 - so they are constructive as well as destructive! We wouldn't have Hawaii without volcanic activity, and I am VERY grateful for Hawaii. I do find them fascinating!


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia

It is frightening to read that Toba is a super volcano as it is pretty close to our country! The Indian Ocean earthquake that resulted in a devastating tsunami on 26 Dec 2004 was not far from Toba. This tsunami affected a small part of Northern Malaysia and it is scary to think of the super volcanic effect of Toba on our country. Hope it will stay 'dormant' for a long time! A belated Congrats on your HOTD.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Malaysia is certainly a geologically active part of the world, greatstuff! I hope Toba stays dormant for a VERY long time - the tsunami was absolutely devastating and I can't imagine witnessing the devastation from that event. A supervolcanic eruption from Toba would be a global disaster - I hope it remains inactive for the foreseeable future!


Anon 3 years ago

Tambora was only VEI 7. There hasn't been a full supervolcanic eruption in recorded history.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Yes, I stated in the article that Tambora was a VEI 7. It is the largest recorded volcanic explosion in recorded history. Modern eyes have never witnessed a VEI 8 explosion (thank goodness)! The term "supervolcano" must be separated from the term "super eruption" - a "super eruption" is a VEI 8 explosion. There is no uniform definition for "supervolcano," which is a different entity than a super eruption. The term "megacaldera" is also used for some supervolcanoes.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

I'm always amazed and fascinated with volcanology. I love any kind or form of geology. This was a great hub with interesting tidbits on supervolcanoes. Voted up for interesting!


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leahlefler 19 months ago from Western New York Author

We are planning a trip to Yellowstone with our children - it is such a fascinating place! I love volcanology, too, Kristen!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Sounds like a fun trip, Leah.


Cyberdurden 7 months ago

If you look to the right a few hundred yards, there is a horseshoe-shaped building. That was the American high school where I graduated in 1987. Tremors all the time.


Guido Heuts profile image

Guido Heuts 7 weeks ago

Great stuff Leah,

But what i don't get is, that everyone talking about Yellowstone is only talking about 3 eruptions; 1. The Huckleberry Ridge eruption (2.1 million years ago. 2500 cubic kilometers ejected material) 2. The Mesa Falls eruption (1.3 million years ago, 280 cubic kilometers ejected material) 3. The Lava Creek eruption (640,000 years ago, 1100 cubic kilometers ejected material) It is a hotspot volcano so wouldn't it be more appropriate to treat it as such, and count all the eruptions from the time it formed, 16 million years ago at the Nevada - Oregon border. This way you get a more detailed picture of the whole thing, there are about 140 eruptions found as large or larger then the three named above, as over time the hotspot moved via the Snake River plain to it's present location underneath Yellowstone.

Also about you saying Krakatoa is not a super volcano (True, the 1883 eruption only erupted 17 - 21 cubic kilometers of material). I dare to debate you on that, as there are signs of a much larger Krakatoa eruption in the year 535 AD which supposedly split the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra apart and so thus creating the Sunda Strait. There are signs of a 15 x 15 mile wide caldera found in the strait. Gosh LOL I could go on with this for hours as it is such fascinating stuff to talk about and read up on. :)

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