2012, Nature  -  120 min Leave a Comment
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The beauty of America's Yellowstone National Park masks one of the rarest and most destructive forces on Earth - a supervolcano. A two-part BBC factual drama asked: What if Yellowstone erupted?

Amidst the stunning wilderness of America's most famous National Park, steam and hot water bubble and hiss from thousands of colorful, mineral-encrusted springs and vents. Together with its wildlife and spectacular scenery, these geothermal phenomena make Yellowstone one of the most incredible places on the planet. But America's most popular tourist attraction is also a time-bomb that could spell disaster for us all.

The hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools are all outward manifestations of a huge body of magma residing not far beneath the surface. The land around Yellowstone regularly swells and subsides - each breath raising the ground level by up to a couple of meters. Scientists know one day this bulging, molten lava will burst through the Earth's crust – it's just a question of when.

The last super-eruption plunged the world into a freezing, volcanic winter that lasted a decade, and threatened the human population with extinction. Based on the predictions of top volcano experts and the detailed planning and evacuation strategies of government agencies, this explosive factual drama examines what would happen if this catastrophic event were to occur again.

State-of-the-art computer graphics integrated with mock-factual sources make for a horrifyingly realistic build-up to the eruption and the climax itself. Then the devastating aftermath across the globe is revealed – environmentally, politically, economically and socially - as viewers glimpse the future and a post-apocalyptic world.

Directly following Supervolcano, a two-episode documentary reveals the cutting-edge research that informed the drama. Meet the experts who monitor the behaviour of the Yellowstone supervolcano. They face the awesome responsibility of predicting when the next super-eruption might next take place – and advising on what will happen when it does.

The programme goes behind the scenes to reveal the work being done to try to understand the sequence of events that could one day culminate in this apocalypse, and to calculate the global fall-out that would follow it.