If the massive volcano that lies beneath the Yellowstone erupts, 90,000 people will get killed.

The eruption of the supervolcano would emit very high levels of molten lava on the Earth's surface and very thick clouds of smoke in the skies. There would be no way out and two-thirds of the United States could be wiped out.

However, there is an emphasis on 'if', as scientists cannot really say when exactly it will erupt, with the last one occurring more than half a million years ago.

Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park, which is America's oldest national park, is home to spectacular hot springs, bubbling pools of mud, unearthly ponds and the most celebrated Old Faithful Geyser. Five miles below the two million acres where one of nature's wonders sits, lies the supervolcano.

The Yellowstone supervolcano has had three massive eruptions. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, a thousand times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption that killed 57 people in Washington.

The other reported eruption occurred farther back around 2.1 million years ago, and was twice as powerful as the eruption 640,000 years ago. It was two thousand times more powerful than the Mount St. Helen eruption.

As powerful as the eruptions are, they are not as frequent. According to experts, chances of a volcanic eruption are slim - one in 700,000 each year.

In the rare chances that an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would ever occur in this lifetime, the majority of the U.S. would be put to a state of 'nuclear winter,' where a thick layer of ash would cover the landmass and block the sun, leading to very low temperatures.

A supervolcano can emit more than a trillion tons when it erupts. If the Yellowstone supervolcano fully explodes, molten layer could go up to about 10 feet thick. From the explosion site, the molten layer could travel to as far as 1,000 miles. It would be impossible to send out search and rescue teams, as the area would pretty much be blanketed in very high levels of volcanic residue. Even air travel would be suspended.

While the chances of an actual massive eruption in Yellowstone are very small, it's always good to be aware of what could happen, if in case it does, experts say. 

Photo: Jeff Gunn | Flickr

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