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17 September 2014
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A scene from Supervolcano0

Beneath the beauty of Yellowstone

Amidst the stunning wilderness of America's most famous National Park, steam and hot water bubble and hiss from thousands of colourful, 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 metres. Scientists know one day this bulging, molten lava will burst through the Earth's crust – it's just a question of when.

Annihilation breathes

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.

Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone

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.

Available on DVD

A Supervolcano DVD containing the two-part factual drama and the behind-the-scenes documentary Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone is available in the BBC Shop and stores nationwide.

Back to Supervolcano homepage

 Elsewhere in Supervolcano

Supervolcano homepage

The world's biggest bang
Starvation could follow a super-eruption, if the Asian Monsoon rains fail as experts predict.

Photo gallery
See dramatic scenes from the programme and download wallpapers for your computer.

Respond to a disaster
Play a game where it's your job to handle an eruption of the fictional Mount Spur.

 Elsewhere on

Horizon: Supervolcanoes
Read a transcript of the programme that inspired Supervolcano.

Natural disasters
Ten per cent of the world's population may live within volcanic danger zones.

Radio 4: Supervolcano
Listen as Peter Evans meets scientists studying the Yellowstone supervolcano.

 Elsewhere on the web

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
The US Geological Survey has detailed information about the supervolcano.

The Geological Society
An in-depth study of the effects of super-eruptions.

Volcano Live
Volcano news and information from expert John Seach.

Volcano World
A University of North Dakota site with information about volcanoes around the world.

How Volcanoes Work
A NASA sponsored site about volcano science.

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