President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget cuts suggest a 15% funding reduction for the U.S. Geological Survey, something many believe would place volcanic studies on the back burner. Actually, less than half of the 169 hazardous volcanoes in the U.S. are being monitored as it stands today. So, it begs the question: If an active volcano was at risk of explosion, would America even know about it?
Volcanoes don’t erupt spur of the moment — at least historically they don’t. Explosions are usually prefaced by earthquakes or heightened magma pressures in the volcanic chambers. But should one of the active volcanoes blow, millions of Americans, and countless others around the world, would be in danger without much warning.
Which volcanoes are next in line for eruption? We break down 10 currently active volcanoes and the areas most at risk. Is your city on the list?
1. Yellowstone Caldera
- Area at risk: Yellowstone National Park, as well as many U.S. cities, including Denver, Salt Lake City, and Cheyenne
Beneath one of the world’s most beautiful national parks lies one of the most dangerous active supervolcanos. The Yellowstone Caldera hides beneath a quarter of the park and scientists say it’s long overdue for a massive eruption. Researchers from the University of Arizona determined the Caldera could erupt in a matter of decades — a far cry from the thousands of years scientists originally thought.
An eruption at Yellowstone would shoot more than 500 cubic miles of rock and ash into the air, a wingspan 2,500 times more material than Mount St. Helens produced in 1980 that killed 57 people. A good chunk of the entire Northwest would be affected. But there’s really no way of telling just how massive or intense the next explosion could be. As expected, this causes scientists quite a bit of worry.
Next: A threat a little further west