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A deadly super-volcano is hidden seven miles beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US – and tonight a new Channel 5 documentary reveals the terrifying threat it poses to humanity.
The volcano has the potential power of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and could create a disaster zone that is 10million times bigger than 9/11’s Ground Zero.
Experts fear a super eruption could result in the biggest natural disaster in modern history and would look like “hell on earth”. Here James Moore reveals 15 explosive facts:
There are 500 active volcanoes across the planet and Yellowstone is one of the largest. Its caldera, a depression in the landscape left by its last eruption 640,000 years ago, measures a whopping 45 miles by 35 miles.
The first of three major super-eruptions of the Yellowstone volcano occurred 2.1million years ago – covering nearly 6,000 square miles with ash.
There are 10,000 geothermal features across Yellowstone including colourful hot springs and the famous Old Faithful geyser, spewing 8,000 gallons of water.
Two huge magma chambers lie beneath the super-volcano, with thousands of cubic miles of molten material – enough to fill the Grand Canyon 14 times over and match the biggest-ever Yellowstone eruption.
A super eruption could result in ash blanketing most of America, with entire cities like Seattle and New York covered in 6-10ft of the stuff. The blast alone could flatten seven US states.
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Hurricanes of super-heated volcanic ash at 400C would travel at hundreds of miles an hour across the landscape killing everything in their path. These could extend 1,000 miles.
Volcanic ash clouds would reach Europe within the first 72 hours. Ash and gases causing toxic rain would contaminate water and kill crops all across the world.
Five million tonnes of material would spew into the atmosphere every second – equivalent to the weight of six Golden Gate bridges. An eruption could last months, blocking out the sun.
As well as killing many thousands of people in the immediate aftermath of the eruption, it would spark the largest refugee crisis in human history.
Headless corpse rolls out of cannibal's car as he admits frying tongue in butter
A full-scale blast would lead to a volcanic winter lasting a decade in which temperatures would drop by 10-15C and millions, perhaps billions would die due to famine.
Air traffic could be suspended for years, not just for weeks as was the case in 2010 when Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland spewed volcanic ash clouds up to 35,000ft.
A cocktail of ash and dust in the atmosphere could cause health problems for millions, as seen in survivors and firefighters from the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Scientists are now using satellites and other tech to measure ground moving up and down, and monitor the activity at Yellowstone.
Warning signs of an eruption would include tens of thousands of earthquakes and the emission of toxic gases.
An eruption is inevitable say geologists and that one is “due”. But no one knows whether it will happen tomorrow… or in a million years’ time.
● Doomsday Volcano: The Next Pompeii is on Channel 5 on Tuesday night at 10pm.
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