Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"This story will help you stop worrying about Trump for a moment," wrote MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler. (Photo: Tom Murphy/National Geographic Creative)

Forget Trump, This Huge Volcano Could Literally Wipe Out Life on Earth

If only for a moment, this story is forcing many to put the current political chaos "into perspective"

Jake Johnson

Yes, Donald Trump is president. And yes, he has access to the nuclear codes—a fact that has become all too vivid in recent weeks. But many allowed themselves to forget, if only for a brief moment, about the man in the White House on Thursday to hone their attention on what is potentially an even more horrifying development. As USA Today reported, new research indicates that the supervolcano resting beneath Yellowstone National Park "may blow sooner than thought, an eruption that could wipe out life on the planet."

"We are all just living at the mercy of the super volcano under Yellowstone. Puts things into perspective doesn't it?" 
—Josh Fox

USA Today's Matthew Diebel notes that Arizona State University researchers have "analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption and found changes in temperature and composition that had only taken a few decades. Until now, the magazine reported, geologists had thought it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make the transition."

"The discovery, which was presented at a recent volcanology conference, comes on top of a 2011 study that found that ground above the magma reservoir in Yellowstone had bulged by about 10 inches in seven years," Diebel adds.

Scientists believe that the volcano's last supereruption took place around 631,000 years ago. As the New York Times notes, researchers "suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event."

Though no one is attempting to put a time frame on the next eruption, Hannah Shamloo of Arizona State University observed that it is "shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption."

Amid the perpetual chaos of the American news cycle and the looming threat of war between nuclear-armed nations, commentators on social media met the possibly dire new research with a mixture of alarm and somber humor.

"We are all just living at the mercy of the super volcano under Yellowstone," concluded director and environmentalist Josh Fox. "Puts things into perspective doesn't it?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·


Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo