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Author Topic: Yellowstone Supervolcano  (Read 17979 times)

Rowanas

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #45 on: December 17, 2009, 02:58:03 am »

Quote
Supervolcanos could theoretically end life on Earth.

"and that only caused the Permian extinction."

Ok, so not all life on earth, but it's not called an extinction for nothing.
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Yagrum Bagarn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #46 on: December 17, 2009, 03:07:41 am »

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Ridiculous, this statement implies a total lack of understanding...

I didn't use "life as we know it" because it sounded too cliche.  I am, of course, aware that there's life here that just doesn't rely on sunlight (i.e. deep ocean hydrothermal vents - I was a big fan of Alvin for a while), or that could get by with somewhat less sunlight.

I also said "theoretically" which doesn't imply that it's probable or easy.  Just possible in some extreme case.  Like the Siberian Traps - I think they could count as a supervolcano.

Calling me, essentially, an ignoramus was an unwarranted personal attack.
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Nadaka

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #47 on: December 17, 2009, 09:05:22 am »

No, not theoretically. Not for any supervolcano we have identified with activity in the last billion years. You are way, way overestimating how fragile life is. The Yellowstone Super Caldera has blown its top 5 times in the last 3 million years or so. Humanity existed in one form or another each and every time. Most, if not all of the common species we know today existed then and survived. It can cause extinctions, but most likely only in species that are already threatened. We are looking at loosing a couple percent of north american species.
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Yagrum Bagarn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #48 on: December 17, 2009, 09:21:05 am »

This is getting out of hand.  I clearly did not say that the Yellowstone Caldera could do that.  Just "Supervolcanos."  Which yes, is true.  The Permian Extinction, caused by extreme (super?) volcanic activity killed way more than 50% of the species on Earth.

Sure, Yellowstone isn't going to kill us.  I agree!  But it could make life in this hemisphere dark and gloomy for a while - and that's a cool thing to know.

The last thing I want to do is start insulting people and let this erupt (heh heh) into a flame (heh) war.
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Inquisitor Saturn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #49 on: December 17, 2009, 10:41:46 am »

I don't doubt humanity would survive such an eruption, but billions would die.
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Lav

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #50 on: December 17, 2009, 11:51:54 am »

This is getting out of hand.  I clearly did not say that the Yellowstone Caldera could do that.  Just "Supervolcanos."  Which yes, is true.  The Permian Extinction, caused by extreme (super?) volcanic activity killed way more than 50% of the species on Earth.
Erm... There's a small problem with this theory. Permian extinction lasted for several millions of years. "Sudden" appearance of super-volcanic activity and then "sudden" disappearance looks pretty strange.

Personally I think the extinction was caused by yet another major "reconstruction" of the Earth biosphere, same as other extinctions. Various "impact" and "volcanic" theories are popular among physicists, but not among paleobiologists.

Sure, Yellowstone isn't going to kill us.  I agree!  But it could make life in this hemisphere dark and gloomy for a while - and that's a cool thing to know.
Now that's hard to refute. Considering the effect that Krakatoa had on the Earth's climate, it's natural to expect Yellowstone to be slightly more noticeable. :-)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 12:16:32 pm by Lav »
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Impaler[WrG]

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #51 on: December 17, 2009, 12:00:57 pm »

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I didn't use "life as we know it" because it sounded too cliche.

If you had said that I would have had no issue because it would be accurate, but saying 'life' when you mean 'humanity' or 'human civilization' is very sloppy use of language and as your whole thread is about informing people on vulcanism I couldn't let such an error pass uncorrected.
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Yagrum Bagarn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #52 on: December 17, 2009, 01:23:23 pm »

Sure, impaler, I was sloppy.  I can accept that criticism.  But in my defense, I posted a link to an article that handled it all much better than my little paraphrase.  I just felt insulted by your initial response.

I still wanna know what a dwarf fortress in a Caldera would entail.  Could mining too much cause that runaway reaction?  Would an eruption have world ramifications?  Maybe slower-growing trees or less abundant wildlife?


Edit: (I made an edit to avoid double-posting, but realized it made no sense, and deleted it.)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 01:38:04 pm by Yagrum Bagarn »
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Impaler[WrG]

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #53 on: December 17, 2009, 01:31:50 pm »

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Erm... There's a small problem with this theory. Permian extinction affected only ocean species. Land fauna was not affected or affected minimally. It's very difficult (if at all possible) to combine this with the idea that volcanic activity is to be blamed. Paleobiologists seem to agree that the reason was the appearance of modern plants, which tremendously reduced the land surface erosion and thus the supply of various nutrients from land into the ocean. Nearly every major "reconstruction" of the Earth biosphere caused extinctions of comparable scale.

Off the top of my head I think the estimate is 90% Ocean and 50% on land which while not Catastrophic as in the ocean still constitutes a major extinction event for land. 

This theory of plant cover is new too me and seems implausible, for one land plants sophisticated enough to form forests had existed for hundreds of millions of years before the Permian extinction and I'm not aware of any major changes in plants prior to the extinction.  Also while its clear that plants can reduce soil erosion I haven't seen any data indicating they reduce the amount of key nutrients like phosphorus from flowing too the oceans.  Many plants and fungi actively leach these nutrients from rock particles in the soil and geologic weathering is primarily a process occurring in mountains which have always been sparsely vegetated. 

The Siberian Traps on the other hand are rather easy to link with the extinction, they coincide nearly perfectly and theirs strong evidence that the Ocean became anoxic (oxygen depleted) and other very extreme fluctuations in ocean and atmospheric chemistry, possibly including Hydrogen-sulfide release in huge quantities, I think most scientists are in agreement that some kind of ocean and atmosphere wide chemistry change was involved in the extinction and vulcanism is the simplest most direct explanation for the change as this huge volcanic event coincides perfectly with the extinction.
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Yagrum Bagarn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #54 on: December 17, 2009, 01:41:10 pm »

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The Siberian Traps on the other hand...

I personally like the idea that a powerful impact could have caused the Siberian Traps and contributed to the extinction.  The idea of something hitting the Earth so hard on one side that the planet bleeds magma from the opposite side gives me an incredible mental image.
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Impaler[WrG]

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #55 on: December 17, 2009, 01:41:41 pm »

Given the size of a Caldera I think the most accurate in game equivalent is to just have a magma pool that covers the whole fortress map and probably a decent sized portion of the world map as well.  It should probably be some what 'lumpy' so we can have some interesting interactions with it rather then a flat 'magma floor' which would be nearly useless to the player.  The hot-water and hydro-thermal features would be the really fun parts, hot pools, geysers, exploding steam pockets that kill your miners etc etc.  As for eruptions I don't think that's a good idea as all your going to be able to tell the player is that their fort (and much of the surrounding world map) is gone in a cloud of magma vapor which is sadistic even by Dwarf Fortress standards.
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Yagrum Bagarn

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #56 on: December 17, 2009, 01:42:55 pm »

I disagree.  I think that's perfectly in the DF spirit.

What's your major/job, Impaler? (If I may ask.)
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Impaler[WrG]

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #57 on: December 17, 2009, 02:07:48 pm »

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I personally like the idea that a powerful impact could have caused the Siberian Traps and contributed to the extinction.  The idea of something hitting the Earth so hard on one side that the planet bleeds magma from the opposite side gives me an incredible mental image.

While admittedly cool its defiantly not the case, the deep mantle plum you mentioned as a possible cause of Yellowstone its almost certainly the cause of something the size of the Siberian Traps and as such is a convection process requiring hundreds of millions or years.  What you describe is more like the Maria formation on the moon which is believed to be impact based, except the magma naturally bleeds out of the gaping crater ware as the opposite side of the planet/moon (the antipode) is believed to be warped into a gagged high-land, the best examples are on some of the Icy moons of the outer solar system.


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What's your major/job, Impaler? (If I may ask.)

I initially majored in Geology but switched to Programming, I'm currently trying to get back into school and or another game development gig.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 02:11:04 pm by Impaler[WrG] »
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Jay

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #58 on: December 17, 2009, 04:57:52 pm »

All this talk of extinction.
Pfft.
99.9999% of all life is already extinct.
Period.
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Lav

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Re: Yellowstone Supervolcano
« Reply #59 on: December 18, 2009, 05:34:05 am »

Off the top of my head I think the estimate is 90% Ocean and 50% on land which while not Catastrophic as in the ocean still constitutes a major extinction event for land.
Sorry, I edited my post after I checked the facts and found out that my memory mixed two different extinctions together. :-)

This theory of plant cover is new too me and seems implausible, for one land plants sophisticated enough to form forests had existed for hundreds of millions of years before the Permian extinction and I'm not aware of any major changes in plants prior to the extinction.  Also while its clear that plants can reduce soil erosion I haven't seen any data indicating they reduce the amount of key nutrients like phosphorus from flowing too the oceans.  Many plants and fungi actively leach these nutrients from rock particles in the soil and geologic weathering is primarily a process occurring in mountains which have always been sparsely vegetated.
There's quite a number of research papers on this issue. I think Wikipedia links to some of them, or I could try googling for links.

The Siberian Traps on the other hand are rather easy to link with the extinction, they coincide nearly perfectly and theirs strong evidence that the Ocean became anoxic (oxygen depleted) and other very extreme fluctuations in ocean and atmospheric chemistry, possibly including Hydrogen-sulfide release in huge quantities, I think most scientists are in agreement that some kind of ocean and atmosphere wide chemistry change was involved in the extinction and vulcanism is the simplest most direct explanation for the change as this huge volcanic event coincides perfectly with the extinction.
The event does not conincide perfectly with the extinction - extinction event started several million years before Siberian Traps happened.

Personally I'm in favour of Occam's Razor here. Paleobiology knows quite a number of major extinctions (5 "great" but also many of lesser scale) and most of them were caused by various major reconstructions of the biosphere. There were also many catastrophic geological events of the scale comparable to Siberian Traps that did not cause any extinctions at all. So I don't see any need to link extinction to geology until it's proven that ecological reasons are definitely out of the question (note the difference: not "we cannot present ecological causes at the moment", but "current knowledge definitely rules out any possible ecological causes").
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Seems to be the way with things on this forum; if an invention doesn't involve death by magma then you know someone's going to go out of their way to make sure it does involve death by magma... then it gets acknowledged as being a great invention.
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