Environmental and Societal Impacts of a Potential Yellowstone Eruption on New England


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Yellowstone National Park is famously known for its history of “super-volcano” eruptions. From the evidence of volcanic deposits, scientists know that the ash cloud that erupted from Yellowstone covered most of the western U.S. states, but models have not shown the ash could also have reached eastern states until recently. The scope of the investigation is to determine what would happen to New England if Yellowstone were to erupt today in terms of health, agriculture, transportation, relocation, economy, and climate. In order to do so, three significant eruptions during human history were researched in order to compare their impacts to those of what Yellowstone could do as well as creating ash fall models with data from Mastin, et al. (2014) to predict the amount of ash that could reach New England. As a result, 0-30 mm of ash could cover New England and global temperatures could decrease by 3-5°C. This would have devastating impacts on agriculture in New England, leading to starvation and other issues that could ricochet across the globe. Although Yellowstone is unlikely to erupt during the 21st century, there are plenty of other less-monitored caldera systems on the planet that could and therefore it is important to have mitigation strategies in place to decrease the harmful effects.


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Serena Butler

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Submission Details

Conference URC
Event Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE)
Department Earth Sciences (ISE)
Added April 18, 2022, 2:58 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2022, 2:59 p.m.
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