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.

Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


Critics of Louisiana LNG Project 'Hopeful' as Huge Sales Contracts Canceled

"The fight is not over," says one activist, but "from tax breaks to pollution and now to these recent financial downswings, we have all the evidence we need to understand that Driftwood will be a parasite."

Jessica Corbett ·


DHS Officials Urge Biden to End 'Disastrous Leadership' of Embattled IG

In an anonymous letter, the Homeland Security staffers say Inspector General Joseph Cuffari's actions "embarrass the entire agency."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo