The Yellowstone volcano was dubbed a supervolcano due to its capability to inflict global devastation during a supereruption, something that has happened three times in the past – 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Its latest event, which created the Lava Creek Tuff, saw more than 1,000 kilometres of rock and volcanic ash ejected into the sky and caused devastation on a grand level. But, even that would be nothing compared to the destructive power of a future flood basalt event – a series of volcanic eruptions lasting for thousands of years – which could threaten life as we know it.
YouTube channel Science Time revealed how these eruptions, which can cover vast areas of land, could cause mayhem.
The narrator said last week: “The last full-scale supereruption of the Yellowstone volcano, about 640,000 years ago, ejected more than 1,000 cubic kilometres of rock and volcanic ash more than 30 kilometres high into the sky.
“Not only devastating the local populations of plants and animals, but it could have also triggered a volcanic winter lasting up to a decade.
“But even a level eight mega-colossal supereruption of this calibre would be considered having a relatively mild impact on Earth’s flora and fauna compared to the destructive power of a flood basalt event.
A flood basalt event could be more devastating
“These are a series of volcanic eruptions covering large swaths of land with basalt lava more than 90 percent of all volcanic rock on Earth is basalt and the lava has a low viscosity due to its low silica content resulting in rapid lava flows that can spread over great areas before cooling and solidifying.”
The series went on to reveal how evidence of a previous flood basalt eruption event can be seen in the scars left on Earth
It added: “One of the largest known volcanic events in the last 500 million years are the Siberian Traps, a region with an extremely large accumulation of magmatic rock, eruptions of this large igneous province continued for roughly two million years.
“Large volumes of basaltic lava covered most of what is Siberia today, in the northern hemisphere of the supercontinent Pangea around 250 million years ago.
“This huge flood basalt event covered an area of more than seven million squared kilometres of basaltic rock, that’s more surface area than all the countries of the European Union combined.
“The massive volcanic eruptions that created the Siberian Traps spewed out four million cubic kilometres of lava, that’s 4,000 times greater than the ejected volume of the Lava Creek eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.
“These eruptions released huge amounts of sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide, heating the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans.”
The documentary explained how the flood basalt event has been linked with mass extinction events.
It continued: “Large igneous provinces like this have been connected to at least five mass extinctions in Earth’s history and the current leading hypothesis is that the flood basalt which created the Siberian traps are what caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event around 252 million years ago.
“This event was the most severe of any in Earth’s history, it’s also known as The Great Dying, because it nearly rendered our planet sterile, killing 96 percent of all living species.
“Scientists have attributed the source of the Siberian Traps to a mantle plume which rose until it impacted against the bottom of the Earth’s crust, producing volcanic eruptions through the Siberian craton.
“Another possible cause could be the asteroid impact that formed the Wilkes land crater in Antarctica, but whatever the cause may be, it’s a staggering reminder of the violent nature of our planet.”