There are a lot of powerful volcanoes scattered across the globe, but few of them compare to the potential destructiveness of the one beneath Yellowstone National Park. In the last two-plus million years, it has seen three major eruptions, and there are a lot of folks who feel that the next one's coming soon.
Yellowstone's volcano is often referred to as a "supervolcano," given the size of the last three eruptions, and the national park's website lays out why, "The term “supervolcano” implies an eruption of magnitude 8 on the Volcano Explosivity Index, indicating an eruption of more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (250 cubic miles) of magma."
Yellowstone's website goes on to describe the three eruptions that qualified in the context of one you might be familiar with, "Yellowstone has had at least three such eruptions: The three eruptions, 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago, were about 6,000, 700 and 2,500 times larger than the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State."
So, when people say the next one's coming "soon," what do they mean? Well, "soon" in relation to geological events like Yellowstone's next eruption could be quite a long time. Given that the last major eruption happened over 600,000 years ago, another one occurring 1,000 years from now (or even 10,000 years!) could qualify as "soon."
Do you have anything to worry about? No. It's as simple as that. That being said, it's incredible to hear about the destruction that Yellowstone's next major event might bring.
Hank Green lays it all out in the clip below from SciShow. Let us know what you think when the video's over, and be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook!