What would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park suddenly erupted? It’s a terrifying thought, to say the least. The eruptions of supervolcanoes are thousands of times larger and more powerful than normal volcanoes. Though there are very few known supervolcanoes on Earth — the one that exists under Yellowstone National Park is one of the most researched and well-documented. This supervolcano erupted three times in the distant past, with the last known caldera-forming supereruption occurring about 640,000 years ago.

Each eruption drastically altered the North American geological landscape and had far-reaching impacts felt across the world. But according to Dr. Shannon Kobs Nawotniak, a volcanologist and assistant professor with the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University, it’s difficult to know exactly what a supervolcano eruption would look like. “Nobody has ever seen a supervolcano erupt, and there’s never been any human documentation of an event like this occurring,” she said. “The last eruption at Yellowstone occurred long before humans came to North America.” FULL REPORT