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back to article DOOMSDAY 2012 MEGA VOLCANO 'UNLIKELY' - NASA

US space agency NASA, in its self-appointed role as 2012 apocalypse denier to the world, has issued another statement regarding a terrifying catastrophe which in its opinion will not befall the Earth and the human race. This time the possible planetary catastrophe is the menace posed by gigantic so-called "supervolcanoes", …

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Alert

Oh no, the Daily Mail has taken over NASA

... now we really ARE all going to die!

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Bronze badge

Keep Calm and Carry On

This will not effect Ryanair flights this time. Though passengers will be required to bring a big pan and brush ...

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Anonymous Coward

Only politicians, cockroaches, and Apple-fanbois will survive.

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Go

Big deal

Some sort of asbestos umbrella would seem to be in order then, as well as some thick-soled shoes. The opportunity to toast marshmallows *anywhere* is a big upside.

Lot of fuss over nothing.

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Mushroom

"The magma flow of Mount Toba in Sumutra, which erupted some 74,000 years ago"

---

You mean the eruption that almost made the human race extinct, according to some theories?

We're now better equipped to survive that. Not all of us, but the human race as such.

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Mushroom

We'll meet again

"We're now better equipped to survive that. Not all of us, but the human race as such."

Then, clearly, we need the Dr. Strangelove plan for survival. As I recall that involves going down a mineshaft with a specially selected group of attractive and eager females. It also requires super-human efforts on the part of the men but I'm willing to make that sacrifice. For England, you understand.

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Alert

Resilience through redundancy

Since the human race has now gone in for massive redundancy (to the tune of >7bn units), it is indeed far better equipped to survive such an event... MRAIH (Massively Redundant Array of Insignificant Humans). However, it is worth noting that the planet earth still represents a potential SPOF, and it would be a sensible move to investigate possible alternate data centre provision. There are recent concerns about the aircon system, with some consultants warning of potential thermal shutdowns.

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Unhappy

Mineshafts?

The UK is buggered then.

Thanks, Thatch.

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Anonymous Coward

We're Doomed!!!

Has NASA denied that the Flying Spaghetti Monster will get bored of all the 2012 bollocks and destroy the Earth on 31/12/2011?

Didn't think so!

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Anonymous Coward

In other words...

WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!1!!

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Happy

Yes

Yes, someday we all will die.

Just not today.

At least, for most of us.

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Anonymous Coward

Soooo

after all that, we may or may not all be dead tomorrow, its unlikely but equally its also possible

wonderful, i feel better already

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Thumb Up

Good...

That's another item I can mark as done on today's todo list:

Avoid being killed by a supervolcano.

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FAIL

And yet...

...the one looming disaster with actual scientific proof continues to be ridiculed by the media.

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Anonymous Coward

Those crazy badgers. They'll get us for sure.

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FAIL

Yup, plenty of scientific evidence for Supervolcanoes. Likewise asteroid impacts. Also plagues.

So there are three possible disaster scenarios with actual scientific proof. Which one was ridiculed?

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What? What?

You mean the human race is going to disappear up its own arse? Singularity style? Enquiring minds need to know etc

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Alert

Absolutely?

"Absolutely no sign" that a super-erruption is looming?

I thought there was quite a lot of evidence that the magma chamber underneath Yellowstone park is currently filling, causing the ground above it to rise. When that ground cracks, all hell will break loose. Of course that's not evidence that it'll errupt next year or in the next 100 years or 10,000 years, but it's rather less reassuring than "absolutely no evidence".

The geological evidence shows a fairly regular 600,000 year cycle for Yellowstone erruptions, and the last erruption was ... about 600,000 years ago. Odds-on the next erruption will be within 50,000 years meaning there's about a 1 in 1000 chance it'll happen in my lifetime.

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That'll be Really Old Faithful then........

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Not really

Magma is sloshing around under Yellowstone, but there is no evidence that activity is trending upwards. Most of these big calderas see regular injections of magma from depth, followed by gradual withdrawals.

There was some worry a few years ago about a bulge under Yellowstone Lake which some people thought was due to magma rising towards the surface. In fact it is probably caused by hot water and gas rising up beneath the lake. It's not growing and not associated with any seismic activity. The biggest current risk in Yellowstone is a recurrence of the massive hydrothermal eruptions which have occurred in the last few thousand years (IIRC the latest has been provisionally dated to 1300 or so).

And its impossible to say what scale the activity in Yellowstone would be on, again caldera eruptions can be catastrophic, or they can be small scale eruptions of magma. A good example is in California where the mind-buggeringly big Long Valley caldera created a series of catastrophic eruptions around 760,000 years ago; but since then activity has been in the form of a series of smaller volcanoes at Mammoth Mountain and the Mono and Inyo Craters which wouldn't really be a threat to anyone.

The three big Yellowstone eruptions were 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, so not exactly clockwork and there is no geologist who would ever say when an eruption will occur - only that one will occur at some point in the future.

Besides, why worry about Yellowstone when the Campi Flegrei caldera is only a 3 hour plane flight away; much more active and where the food is better?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlegraean_Fields

But if you do ever get a chance to visit Yellowstone, take it, it is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth.

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Silver badge

Perhaps the answer

Is for NASA not to give these 2012 doomsday kooks the attention they crave. Just ignore them completely. Don't waste time allaying fears of irrational people because irrational people won't listen anyway. Just carry on doing good science and don't stoop to their level.

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Pirate

AKA

Never argue with an idiot - he'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience

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Silver badge

Understandable reluctance

"However the space agency, in classic style, refuses to actually firmly say that there will not be a catastrophic mega-eruption next year."

What, with Italian scientists already being sued for failure to predict an earthquake...

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Gold badge
Happy

No danger there. If that one goes off, there won't be a space agency left to sue anyway.

Or a court system to sue them in.

Or any lawyers to sue them with. Hey, even this cloud has a silver lining, who knew?

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Happy

Perhaps the 2012 doomsayers can try for an Accumulator Bet

How about a massive solar flare will push a passing asteroid off course, which crashes into Yellowstone, triggering a supervolcano?

I would give them a trillion to one odds return on that, but they have to give me the same odds if it doesn't happen. :)

That should shut them up. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

read between the lines!

they just say it won't happen in 2012...but all bets are off come January 1st, 2013! Panic now! Supplies and space in the Vaults are limited!

Time for government to start handing out big juicy contracts for "supercaldera survival kits" that will of course need to be replaced by 2013, and be owned by big DNC contributors...like the "bird flu" vaccine contracts paid out to Genentech, for example...or the "smallpox vaccine" contract to SIGA...

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WTF?

Very suspicious

It's all well and good for NASA to deny this, but actual *geologists* seem to be keeping mum.

Or for the tin-foil disinclined: wtf do I care what a "space flight center" has to say about terrestrial volcanoes?

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I was sort of thinking that myself, this doesn't really seem to be NASA's department. Though they undoubtedly have some rock-huggers on the payroll, it's hardly their primary remit.

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Stop

Stop using the damn capslock key in titles!

See title

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Anonymous Coward

Aha...

...now we know where NASA's budget really goes.

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Anonymous Coward

If it will happen sometime then we ought to be giving space exploration and settlements higher priority. Where's my lunar cities, and Luna Park ?

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Mushroom

.. now we really ARE all going to die!

.....of course you all ARE! ...this is just harmless speculating about HOW. Just a little less depressing than heart disease or cancer.

I like these NASA's Doomsday 2012 scenarios. A Canary Island mega tsunami could be intersesting. Wonder how Hinkley Point would fare?

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Alien

Just watch the movie-2012

The movie explains it all. The only nonsense in the whole movie was the usage of cell phones in the midst of world-wide destruction. Minor details.

More seriously, I am greatly concerned about the Wyoming/Montana/Utah super-volcano, simply because it is thousands of years overdue and has been showing a lot of signs of activity (such as a lake bed that has risen several feet). The probability is that it will erupt "soon" (That could be a thousand years, because "soon" in geologic terms is measured that way) It could also erupt today.

I predict Dec 22,2012 will happen as scheduled, and I've never been wrong yet in predicting the occurrence of successive days, one after the other.

Another possibility is that Ancient Aliens are causing all this mayhem!

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Dull

"Indonesia, New Zealand, the United States, and Chile"

So miles away from me then. Who cares?

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Gold badge

"What really seems to annoy the NASA spokespersons ..."

...is probably the fact that they have a fully staffed press office and no budget for a space program which that office might talk about instead.

There's no conspiracy theory needed here. NASA's press officers are just *bored*.

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Volcano Insurance

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I can't believe he bought it....

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Silver badge

FIRST IT WILL BE....

A COMET, then an earthquake, then a super volcano, followed by an alien invasion.

NASA has denied it all, yet WE know the truth... We are truly f***ed, if they deny it it is obviously true.

If all the world leaders suddenly go missing on that day (heading to their) bunkers then get ready to dig a hole and hide in it, or better still get drunk and watch the spectacle.

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And next from the Not My Specialty Department

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) explains the dangers of solar flares....

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Re "left a thick layer of ash over all of South Asia."

So no more hard disks then.

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"The Road"

Yellowstone super volcano has risen almost a meter since 1920 or so. And accelerated its rise last decades. If that goes off (which it will every 600.000 year - it is over due now) entire USA will be covered with a foot of ashes. Atomic winter.

I suggest you all see the movie "The Road" with Viggo Mortensen. It is an realistic post apocalyptic movie. A dad and his son, maybe after a super volcano, tries to survive. Very realistic. Atomic winter has occured, all sunshine is blocked. All plants are dead. And so are the animals. Nothing living exists. Only few scattered bands of humans. Nothing to eat. Everybody starves. What is left to eat?

A real horror movie. If you have children, I bet you will be most intimated. The most terrifying movie I have ever seen, I think. It was so realistic. No monsters. Just... humans.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

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No

The Yellowstone hotspot is just like Hawaii. The lava is slick and will not explode

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@Allison Park

Ok, how do you know that?

Earlier, Yellowstone has exploded in a super volcano.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Caldera#Volcanic_hazards

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Mushroom

Since they aren't flying anymore....

After everything they've announced this year, how about we reassign the meaning of NASA? My vote is:

Nearing

Apocolypse

Speculation

Administration

And I still want a "we're all gonna die!" icon.

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Alien

NASA - Not Another Serious Answer?

The comments have been huge fun. Thanks and a round of applause to all.

The press offices of all of the US agencies have noted an increase in general public anxiety with respect to 2012. Even the venerable USGS which tracks quakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis has barely mentioned the existence of El Hierro in the Canary Islands and its over 10,000 quakes this year. USGS only put up a web page pointing to the IGN.es web site when enough reporters called and asked what the heck was happening off-shore from La Restinga.

Mind you, El Hierro appears to have become "constipated" right now - and has stopped venting gas and rocks with as much violence as a week ago - preferring instead to opt for really sharp earthquakes from 20 km below the weakening El Golfo Bay escarpment as sea water works into the fault lines. Nothing quite says "splash" like a rock wall that is 8 km deep and 1 km high above sea level being propelled by jets of steam and magma towards the East Coast of the US, and pushing ahead of it a 40 km wide wave that will build to a wave crest of 1 km high in shallow water.

The NASA Press Office did the right thing to redirect the apocalyptic queries to their humorous press releases - and really just avoid the discussion of earthly volcanoes all together.

They really do have a lot more pressing things to do right now like budget justifications, explaining the SWAT-team arrests of grannies carrying around specks of moon dust, "stealing back" camera gifts to former astronauts, and buying tickets in bulk for Virgin Galactic flights to capture the "scientific experience" of getting the heck off the planet.

The NASA Press Office just doesn't want everyone else doing exactly the same thing - booking space flights - during the upcoming holidays - since that would probably make for rather difficult passenger delays at the Virgin Galactic counter at the new spaceport in New Mexico, around the corner from Roswell, where the new ICE immigration quarantine processing center is being built for off-world visitors, which will be operated by ICE contracted private enterprise and will serve fried chicken to all detainees, since in space, everything tastes like chicken.

That, and the fact that NASA checked baggage is charged at $25,000 US per pound to simply place into orbit - and we are not talking about round trip baggage fees, or even the estimated times to track down and return lost items in orbit: Hey, bud, just try keeping a diamond tiara in place in zero G.

Yes, sir, the NASA Press Office respectfully answers all public questions and calls from members of the press with their characteristic charm and ability to redirect to other US agencies, who just ignore their phone calls or outsource their calls to call centers in India, like FEMA.

So, "supervolcanoes"? No problemo.

Si! They exist. Just don't bother asking about manana.

After all, the Truth is Out There ...

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Anonymous Coward

"for those who wish to know"

The Mayan Long Count calendar is based on a recursively defined numbers, with a count being an instance of a Tun, or "completion" of 20. If we are completing

a long count of 8000 (roughly the timespan of Maya legend) then the next one

will be 152000 years from now. We'll be into the "long long count" by that

reckoning.

Fubar (was an acronym originally used to describe the conditions that pertain to

engineering calculations involving more than one frame of reference)

Anonymously 'cause I dig the Masque.

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Childcatcher

Much closer to home

The Bay of Naples is a caldera. Now Yellowstone is long way off and so in Sumatra but Italy is next door. The last I heard was that the floor of the bay had risen by several tens of meters.

Should we be worried? Ah, what the hell.

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