A regular volcano is easy to spot: oh look, there’s a big mountain with a crater-mouth thing on top from when it went boom last time.
I live in the shadow of big honking volcanoes, including Mount Rainier (ginormous, but has not gone off lately) and Mount Saint Helens (also big, and went kaboom).
A super volcano is an entirely different animal. They aren’t mountain-shaped. These things are so big, you could be standing on one and not know it.
Yellowstone is one giant volcano, for example.
1) What happens when one of these things explodes?
No, seriously. Really, really bad.
A regular volcano can cause lahars (think of being buried in 30 feet of steaming mud), lava, poisonous gas and all kinds of ash entering the air. That ash can circle the world and cause temperatures to drop a bit, no joke.
When a super volcano goes off, it’s 2.4 bazillion times worse. Instead of a local mess, it’s a regional disaster, even continent-wide. If the Yellowstone super V blew, it would bury Nebraska in seven feet of ash.
The worst part: Nebraskan farmers wouldn’t have to worry about shoveling seven feet of ash from their fields, because nothing would grow anyway. So much ash gets ejected into the atmosphere that it blocks the sun. Scientists believe super volcanoes cause short ice ages. Short being the geological term, you know, “300 hundred years” instead of “10,000 years.”
2) How likely is this type of apocalypse?
The bad news? It’s a 100 percent guarantee.
There are at least a dozen super volcanoes around the world that have gone off before. Scientists say they erupt on a rough schedule.
The good news is those schedules are also on a geological time frame–for some of these supers, it’s 600,000 years.
Back to the bad news: some of these super volcanoes are overdue.
3) How could you prepare?
This is a tough one. You can’t really predict when or where one will explode.
Stocking up on canned food and ammo wouldn’t help that much, seeing how it would be a global disaster and food production would grind to a halt. There’d be massive starvation, and your three-month supply of baked beans and tuna fish would last you…three months.
Unlike other apocalyptic scenarios, such as WATERWORLD: KEVIN COSTER IS OPTIONAL, you’d want to move toward the equator instead of away from it, since those areas would be warmest.
Whatever animals survive the mini-ice age might get quickly hunted to extinction.
While this sounds completely unappealing, growing mushrooms in a cave is the kind of last-ditch thing that could work here, and in just about every other apocalyptic scenario. I’m just not sure humans can survive on mushrooms alone. Wouldn’t you get scurvy and such?
4) Is this preventable?
Unlike zombies and killer robots, super volcanoes definitely exist. They will wake up, as they have before, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
The only truly preventative measure that might safeguard people is going full Elon Musk: establish colonies on the moon, asteroids and Mars.
Then when it’s safe after a few hundred years, send people back to recolonize Earth and reconnect with hardy survivors hanging out in caves and nom-nomming on mushrooms.
- Chapter 1—You’re Doing It Wrong
- Chapter 2—Lone Wolf in a Bunker vs Nimble Nomad with Friends
- Chapter 3—Getting Around
- Chapter 4—One Backpack and a Pair of Hiking Boots
- Chapter 5—Yes, Any Sort of Apocalypse Means Looting the Mall
- Chapter 6—Suit Up with Seriously Practical Armor
- Chapter 7—Fire and Water
- Chapter 8—Blades, Bludgeons and Bad Ideas
- Chapter 9—Getting Real about Long Range Weapons
- Chapter 10—Prepping for Day 1 of Any Sort of ‘Pocalypse
- Chapter 11: What’s the actual likelihood of all the different flavors of apocalyptic craziness?
- Chapter 12: What types of apocalyptic insanity should you actually prep for–and which can you ignore?
- Chapter 13: How to prepare for a WATERWORLD-style apocalpyse