Doom from Yellowstone/2008 in pictures

December 31, 2008

Sometimes XKCD just really hit’s the spot.

The New York Times has posted it’s Year in Pictures gallery. There’s some great work in there. I suggest you take the time to sit down and go through it.

There has apparently been a swarm of larger-than-usual earthquakes in Yellowstone recently. Ok, so let me explain a few things before you go read the article- earthquakes happen in Yellowstone ALL THE TIME. As the article says- 1,000 to 2,000 every year, but the vast majority of them can’t even be felt by humans because they’re all only in the range of magnitude 1-3ish. Generally an earthquake has to be at least a 4 before people can feel it, or it causes any damage. But this recent group of temblors have been a little more intense than normal. If you’ve ever watched the History channel, you’ve probably seen one of those programs about natural disasters that mentions how Yellowstone is actually a gigantic caldera from an ancient supervolcano. When supervolcanoes erupt, it’s not even on the same scale as a normal volcano… we’re talking enough ash spewed into the atmosphere to cause sudden worldwide climate change (possibly enough to cause some extinctions), and (in the case of Yellowstone) a blanket up to 3 feet thick of ash covering most of the US. What’s scary about this fact is that its last eruption was about 620,000 years ago… “so what?” you say. Well, scientists also estimate that prior to that last eruption, it erupted with a frequency of about every 600,000 years….. *gulp*….. Don’t freak out just yet, though. Fortunately, geologists also point out that there’s nothing to indicate an imminent eruption, though it will eventually erupt again, without a doubt. But, they really don’t know what this latest increase in earthquake activity could mean, if anything, quite honestly I’d say it does NOT point to an imminent eruption. I also learned something from the article I hadn’t a clue about- the Teton range is actually sinking ever so slightly.

This is really creepy… and sad. A videotape that showed the final moments of the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts’ lives managed to survive the breakup of the spacecraft. You can hear them talking about the glowing hot plasma-temperatue gases outside their windows, the very hot gases that seeped in through the hole in the left wing and caused it rip apart. The video is not embed-able, so just follow the link below.

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