Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Earth Sciences

Program or Major

Earth Sciences

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Joseph Licciardi


Yellowstone National Park is famously known for its history of “super-volcano” eruptions. From the evidence of volcanic deposits, scientists know that the ash cloud that erupted from Yellowstone covered most of the western U.S. states, but until recently, models have not shown the ash could also have reached eastern states. The scope of this investigation is to determine what would happen to New England if Yellowstone were to erupt today in terms of health, agriculture, transportation, relocation, economy, and climate. In order to do so, three significant eruptions during human history are considered as case studies in order to compare their impacts to those of a potential Yellowstone eruption. In addition, ash fall models are created to predict the amount of ash that could reach New England. These models suggest that 0-30 mm of ash could cover New England and global temperatures could decrease by 3-5°C. This would have devastating impacts on agriculture in New England, leading to starvation and other issues that could ricochet across the globe. Although Yellowstone is unlikely to erupt during the 21st century, there are numerous other less closely-monitored caldera systems on the planet that could erupt, and therefore it is important to have mitigation strategies in place to decrease the harmful effects of potential volcanic cataclysms.

Included in

Volcanology Commons