Volcanologist wants to nuke Yellowstone supervolcano and prevent violent eruption; Will it work?

A volcanologist said detonating a small nuclear bomb inside the Yellowstone supervolcano can lessen the chances of a violent eruption

An expert on volcanoes suggested a way that could lessen the magnitude of the Yellowstone supervolcano's potential eruption. According to the volcanologist, detonating a small nuclear bomb inside the volcano can help reduce the buildup of its magma.

The Yellowstone Caldera is a supervolcano that sits within the US' Yellowstone National Park. Geological data revealed that it erupts every 600,000 to 800,000 years. Many scientists believe it is already due for another major eruption since that last time this happened was 630,000 years ago.

Detonating A Nuclear Bomb


Given the size of the supervolcano, a major eruption would have drastic and devastating effects on its surroundings. But, according to volcanologist Craig McClarren, there is a way that could prevent a powerful eruption by minimizing its intensity. McClarren shared his idea through the question-and-answer site Quora. According to the volcanologist, he would use a remotely-operated rig to drill into Yellowstone's magma chamber, which could cause a minor eruption and ease the pressure building up within the supervolcano.

If the drilling process does not cause an eruption, he will proceed by having a small nuclear bomb placed inside the magma chamber. "I would have a remotely operated drill rig drill down to the magma chamber," McClarren wrote. "If doing that was insufficient to trigger an eruption, I would have the smallest nuke in the US arsenal dropped in and detonated."

Depressurizing Yellowstone

Magma Pixabay

According to the volcanologist, detonating a powerful bomb inside the volcano would depressurize the magma building up underneath it. Although his plan most likely won't prevent a complete eruption, it could minimize its intensity.

"Triggering a catastrophic release of volatiles through depressurization should result in an eruption that is large, but still significantly smaller than that which might have occurred later," he explained.

Predicting Volcanic Eruptions

McClarren explained that his plan is based on the notion that the eruption of volcanoes can be accurately predicted. He structured his plan based on a hypothetical scenario that Yellowstone was going to erupt in 10 years, giving local agencies enough time to come up with effective solutions to deal with the upcoming eruption.

Unfortunately, volcanoes are quite known for their unpredictable nature. Even though signs of volcanic activity can be detected weeks or months before an eruption, it is still impossible to predict exactly when a volcano would erupt.