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article below posted September 9, 2010    Bookmark and Share

The Yellowstone Caldera is a volcanic super-crater surrounded by mountains. Sooner or later, it will blow up again.
image from the USGS


Yellowstone: The #1 National Security Threat

Unless we turn Wyoming into a new energy Mecca

by Martin Nix

Yellowstone National Park has literally thousand of square miles of hot magma underneath, which will someday erupt. This isn't just a small volcano! Geologists say it's possible that a major eruption there would be thousands of times greater than that of Mt. St. Helens. It would put the US under several feet of volcanic ash, and likely put the planet into an ice age. (See www.earthmountainview.com/yellowstone/yellowstone_press_release.htm.)

Yellowstone is a far worse threat than any Taliban. But with planning we can prevent this scenario with geothermal development.

The geothermal potential of Yellowstone is huge. It is like a giant nuclear reactor, fired by the natural decay of underground radioactive elements. Developing Yellowstone's geothermal potential would not only displace the need for coal and nuclear power plants, it would also cool the magma down, relieving the pressure than could lead to an eruption.

Right now, natural rainfall cools Yellowstone down. Rain seeps into the ground, cooling the magma, creating the beautiful geysers we see today.


Presently the most common method of geothermal exploitation is a dual-well system, with one well injecting water and the other extracting steam. However, the flow of water through the cracked rocks also extracts sulfur, a pollutant. Dual-well systems are also cumbersome because they require a special exchanger to cool the water.

However, a more elegant method might be to create artificial geysers. Single wells could be drilled into hot areas, then filled with water to create geysers. Steam pushes the water skyward through electrical generators. The steam then becomes clouds, which then propagate more rain. Since single geothermal wells never flow water through cracked rocks, sulfur pollution is not a problem. Artificial geysers may be the way to go, though they do require more water than dual-well systems.

The extent of this huge underground hotspot is shown here in kilometers.
image from the USGS



It would be a sight to see 10,000 wells sending water skyward. Although it would be a huge project, it could eliminate the need for many coal and nuclear power plants. Geothermal development could power the entire Midwest.

It could also electrify our train system. A side-advantage of this is that the train system could be used for building an electrical distribution system, by stringing cable above the railroads or burying it next to them. Similarly, cable could be strung along any water pipes that are used to service the geysers.

Instead of Congress funding new nuclear power plants, these funds should be used to fund geothermal development, a form of natural nuclear energy.


The major hang-up for such a project is the large volume of water necessary. It would require roughly the same water flow as the Mississippi River. A huge project, but probably no huger than the Tennessee Valley Authority projects in the 1930s.

One smart way to create artificial rain would be to pump up underground saltwater to make evaporation ponds to grow algae for biodiesel (algae for biodiesel is already proving much more efficient than other crops; see www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/biofuel/4213775). The sun evaporates water from algae farms, thereby creating artificial rain clouds. Of course, these algae ponds would have to be strategically located to encourage rainfall in the area of the geothermal development.

Water could be piped down the Continental Divide. Since eruption from Yellowstone would adversely impact Canada, our northern neighbor might be willing to help.

Another source of water could be the Great Lakes. Combined with solar and wind energy, geothermal energy could drive the water pumps, pumping water all the way to Wyoming.

The fact is geothermal development of Yellowstone could power the country. If you think this is expensive or harmful to the environment, then try cleaning up after an eruption. A major Yellowstone eruption would be a national—and probably a planetary—disaster, much more harmful to flora and fauna than anything humans could do. Action now could prevent another Ice Age. Do you have a 1,000 year supply of food stored up?


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Comments (20)

Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.



#1 - Kevin - 09/09/2010 - 08:11
I really hope this article has been written as a joke, Onion style. Because if not, there are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to begin.

The Greater Yellowstone eco-system is one of the last intact eco-systems in the lower 48. To destroy it would be a great crime.

#2 - Shirley - 09/09/2010 - 10:56
Kevin has a good point, and for that reason this project might be a tough sell, but the counterpoint is that geothermal WOULD be a lot better (earth friendly) than nuclear or coal or natural gas. Perhaps we could just do without electricity? (A rhetorical question)

Although "geo-thermalling" Yellowstone might destroy some pristine environment, it might also be much nicer for the planet's health as a whole.

#3 - Todd Anderson - 09/09/2010 - 14:39
Interesting exchange here. It's kind of the difference between being a "conservationist" and an "environmentalist." Sometimes the two are not the same. Also, would geothermal installations "destroy" Yellowstone? Might depend on how they are done. I don't know if Kevin is qualified to make such a blanket statement.

#4 - George - 09/09/2010 - 14:51
Some people assume any form of energy production destroys everything around it because they want to destroy America and become communists. If we could power the country would that not be justification to destroy a small ecosystem we know will be destroyed anyway when the super volcano erupts?

#5 - Gil - 09/09/2010 - 19:29
We should all be aware that the powers at be, whatever you want to call them (Central Bankers, Secret gov. One world gov,etc) will not allow alternative forms or energy simply because they are in control of fossil fuels and that is still profitable for them. Have you noticed that the price of gasoline has stayed around $3 bucks a gallon even with all the disasters? That's because they don't want electric cars or other sources of energy to develop yet. They want to get their hands on that first after we exhaust petroleum.

#6 - Phil - 09/10/2010 - 10:57
I'm with Kevin. This whole idea is so hilariously preposterous on so many levels that it HAS to be a joke.

#7 - Dave - 09/11/2010 - 01:02
You need to repeat the 8th grade and pay attention this time. You are off your rocker!!!!

#8 - jack - 09/12/2010 - 04:44
i really wanna know when,what month roughly the eruption will occur?? would you please tell us roughly possibility of which year,month,date,would be nice to know.

#9 - matt - 09/12/2010 - 04:47
yo,i agree with jack.we all have to know exactly when. i believe whatever will happens,just let them do in natural way.u can't stop them.

#10 - Rose - 09/26/2010 - 16:46
I think they are on the right track with relieving the pressure. The pressure from where the steam can't escape fast enough is going to someday build up enough pressure to blow. That's what's going to make it blow, why not save the planet and give it a try. God gave us the ability to learn and I think we need hundreds of pressure relieve valves on this monster before it takes us all out. Have any of you been watching all the earth quake activity in the area? No brainer to me. That would also releive the pressure causing the earth quakes as well. We started getting small earthquakes where I live due to the gas companies putting gas into the ground causing pressure underground. Over filling these areas can cause earthquakes.

#11 - A E K - 10/23/2010 - 20:55
George, in comment #4 wrote, "If we could power the country would that not be justification to destroy a small ecosystem we know will be destroyed anyway when the super volcano erupts? "

George, we DON'T know for sure that it IS going to erupt!

#12 - Sam - 03/22/2011 - 02:57
Artificial rains.

#13 - Ellen - 11/11/2011 - 04:19
Yes, please tell me people are not serious about this. "justification to destroy a small ecosystem"

Yes, just how many of those "small ecosystems" are left in the world? Wasn't every other bit of earth dug up for minerals and gas also part of some "small ecosystem"?

And there's no proof that doing this would even "relieve pressure" or anything like that. Yellowstone Caldera is a supervolcano - many, many, many times larger than Mt St Helene's and if, and whenever it decides to wake up, I doubt any human would have the capability to stop it.

ps. this website seems quite dodgey i'm not sure about it's sources either...

#14 - Gertrude - 01/08/2012 - 06:55
Great insight. Releveid I'm on the same side as you.

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