Nature  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 7.70/10 from 82 users.

SupervolcanoThe 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.

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tobias MacRobie

    Very dramatic representation of the Yellowstone Caldera.

    I might disagree with the wind trajectories by about 45 degrees south, but aside from that it was all pretty spot on with what I've been taught.

    I was a little disappointed that the Long Valley Caldera didn't get triggered in a chain of ultimate caldera doom.. but maybe that will be in the sequel. xD

    Check out this video if you want a suspense drama with a modest budget set to the imagery of a nat geo volcano documentary.

    1. Drastically Undiluted

      Apparently my first comment did not go through.
      The gist of my question is whether you have actual source-data to show why you have disappointment with the lack of additional events. Perhaps you are a professional Geoscientist. I have studied Yellowstone a very fair amount and have not seen a direct correlation of such an event relating to the Long Valley caldera. It's possible that you just wanted more drama, I hope this isn't the only source of your disappointment.

  2. ask and i MIGHT tell

    aww poo.. i was expecting some real science - not post-speculatory fud

    That's what i get for not seeing "drama" in the description, jumping straight to the video.. damn fiction.. there should be a separate "fiction" category.. its as bad as the "conspiracy" saturation when I click "history"...

    1. A Geologist

      Actually, this "Movie" does an excellent job of explaining how geologists monitor volcanoes in general, and does a great job of explaining the supervolcano at Yellostone NP. and what the expected fallout of a supervolcano eruption would be. I'm a geologic research professional, and teach at a university; we actually use this video in our volcano units in Geology 101, and show it in the Volcanology lecture class as well. There is of course a lot of "drama" in the movie, but the science is sound.

  3. john kay

    as pat travers says
    boom boom out go the lights

    note to bush / al queda - please cause yellowstone to go off "naturally" asap
    lets step it up a level already

  4. CSNY


    "The american imperialists can pour concrete allover the area&seal it, but they will lose the money comin' from tourists... nobody will pay to see the largest parking lot in the Universe. Just a thought".

    - or would they? ;)

    My favorite map from the Interstate 76 game was this huge, almost endless, parking lot, i think the name of the map was " a lot of asphalt". Great game.
    hmm, it just came to me, when i read your comment.

  5. Scott Gordon

    in reality , this is a good movie. based on facts and hyperamplified to show what can happen based on known data. I would always want to know the worst case ..

    Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

  6. Ella Silver

    given the cast lineup, i'm expecting SG1 to walk in any time now.

    1. holmes221b

      I had the same thought when it originally aired on TV.

  7. Ella Silver

    "American Imperialists"?I didn't know they had internetz in north korea :DAnd i don't think a little bit of concrete will make a lick of difference anyway.

  8. Ella Silver

    Don't watch "The Future is Wild" then.. though i recommend you do because it's buckets of win. But it might piss you off.

  9. lawdawg007

    How can this be a documentary about Yellow stone park featuring UK actors? What is the love affair this website has with UK documentaries? sheesh

    1. Ella Silver

      Yeah it's almost like there's a way to gather vast amounts of information on something without actually living near it... I know that sounds f--ked... but apparently it exists.

    2. Lee Walker

      If you do a little research England invented the documentary film style and has been doing it far longer than anyone else (since the 1920's) which probably accounts for the large number of quality English documentaries on this site. The UK actors in this film are probably because it is a BBC documentary. If it were made by PBS then I'd expect to see more Americans in it.

  10. Giffin

    @gilbert ratchet: If we where talking about an Alex Jones ‘documentry’ I would’ve agreed with your comment. It’s not however, they state clearly at the beginning of both episodes that it’s a fictional piece.

  11. Friedell

    Imho its a fairly well made tv docu-drama with lots of real docu footage snippets thrown in and decent cgi. A lot info is also given. However the whole long term effects of such an
    event is not covered and the usual bad behavior (every disaster is a opportunity...) is not even touched.

  12. Gaz

    noone else thought it was funny when mexico said go away?

  13. kretik77

    I wouldn't watch this doc again.

  14. Waldo

    @ mike walker

    We worry more about what is said than how it is spelled. A lot of the worst offenders speak English as a second language. This isn't a formal setting, whats the big deal?

  15. mike walker

    enjoyable and informative, do the users of this site not have access to spell check?

  16. Ramus

    @gilbert ratchet
    How can you make a documentary about something that hasn't happened yet? "Lazy and insidious"? Weird comments to make on a 2-part BBC docu-drama.

  17. Waldo

    I really don't know of anything that could be done to stop or reduce the significants of a Yellow Stone eruption. Maybe we would be better off not knowing about it? I mean if nothing can be done it only serves to worry people. I guess we could prepare our emergency relief efforts and try to make sure no one was in the immediate vacinity when it blows, but thats about it. From what I have heard it will be such a global catastrophe that even if you aviod being killed by the initial eruption you will probably die of starvation, lack of drinking water, or ash inhalation. I for one am putting it out of mind until I hear the big boom, at which point you can find me at the local pharmacy stocking up for a good time until the end. Oh, or maybe over at Mississippi State University where tons of medical marijauna is grown, I am sure there is a pharmacy close to there as well, two birds and I am stoned. Like the guy said as the plane went down, "Hit something hard, I don't wanna limp away from this sh*t."

    1. TSUNlandsharks

      If you go to Miss State all you'll get is some pretty decent cheese. The marijuana field is at Ole Miss, fyi.

    2. Guest

      Miss State - Starkville
      Ole Miss - Oxford

  18. pyjammez

    Wow, touching...

  19. Gaz

    i lold when mexico closed its borders.

  20. tinribs

    docu-drama = z-list actors hamming it up as if it may be their first and last break in showbiz

    it must be cheaper than funding factual people with significant qualifications

  21. Pip Wilson


  22. terryrret

    Great show . I don't see the problem with it being done this way . A lot more people will watch this and think about it . This done as a doc with a bunch of scientists with a bunch of grafts the message might not come through .

    Glad it's here or I would have missed this one .
    Thanks again Vlatko

  23. Spaghetti and Meatballs

    I fell asleep watching this doco.

  24. Nakor4200

    This may be a docu-drama, but it's a docu-drama that depicts a real and imminent event. The thing about a yellowstone super-eruption is that it won't just destroy the united states. The sulfer-dioxide suspended in the stratosphere will circle the globe and remain there for many years, reflecting a large portion of the suns radiation back into space, thus cooling our planet and causeing a "nuclear-winter" . Global crops will fail. It will literally be the end of the world. So joke about it if you like, but it IS basically over due, and could very well happen as I type this now. Sweet Dreams.

  25. krakatau

    Volcanology is fascinating! I saw the docu-drama about Krakatoa the other day and loved it! This is another great one!

    @gilbert ratchet

    > this is not a documentary its a drama

    It's a drama based on extensive research made on the subject. While there might not be people with those names and personalities working at the park, it's clear to anyone watching the video that the description of the events surrounding the eruption are based on real studies and/or facts. For example: the video shows the area that would be affected by the pyroclastic flow. It also shows the area that would be affected by ash fall. That assessment did not come from the mind of a Hollywood writer, instead, it was based on research performed by scientists. It's true this isn't a conventional "documentary", howver, there's knowledge to be acquired from watching it too... And I'm glad I did watch it.

    > its lazy and also insidious

    Either you didn't read the video's description, or you don't know the meaning of the words "lazy" and "insidious"....

    insidious [?n?s?d??s] adj
    1. stealthy, subtle, cunning, or treacherous;
    2. working in a subtle or apparently innocuous way, but nevertheless deadly;


    gilbert ratchet - TOTALLY AGREE

  27. ionica

    gum is the solution, Americans always chewing anyway...if only the gum stuck behind all the gimm benches, bus chairs and under McDonald's tables would be used and it's more than enough...Volcano go boom, the giant bubble get's created and the hot air will take all the magma in to the sun. Fixed it! I want my money, now.

  28. gilbert ratchet

    this is not a documentary its a drama
    if i want fiction i'll read a newspaper!

    its lazy and also insidious

    1. Vlatko

      @gilbert ratchet,

      Read the description: ...two-part BBC factual drama...

  29. 3pl3


    Pouring concrete is prolly a bad idea since it would help the vulcano built up pressure. Im just guessing that it could amplify the explosion. The best thing to do is to make the vulcano explode prematurely at different places at the same time so it can release pressure, even if it means lots of land will be destroid.

  30. aaangie123

    I really enjoyed this

  31. ionica

    this was actually good. If Osama exists I bet he wears a Yellowstone Park T-shirt...Even Lorenzo Lamas as a scientist is pretty credible, reminds me of Van-Damme playing Himself..Oh, and that guy with the accent from Star-trek got bold, such a petty..poor fellow. The american imperialists can pour concrete allover the area&seal it, but they will lose the money comin' from tourists... nobody will pay to see the largest parking lot in the Universe. Just a thought.