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Media hype creates spike of fear for 2020 apocalypse

This past year has contained a variety of catastrophes including an extremely active hurricane season, numerous disastrous wildfires and, obviously, the worldwide COVID-19 virus. However, recent fears have risen about the possibility of new catastrophic events that could end off this year. Media reports have led to spikes in concern about both an asteroid impact and a cataclysmic volcanic eruption.

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Objects announced that an asteroid named 2018 VP1 was approaching Earth and projected that a possible collision with the atmosphere could occur on Nov. 2 at 1:12 UT. Despite 2018VP1 passing by safely on the projected day, the announcement led to massive media hype about how the asteroid hurtling toward humanity would destroy the planet a day before the election.

Besides a catastrophic asteroid strike, concern about a massive eruption occurring at Yellowstone National Park began when two large earthquakes struck the West Coast in July, and numerous smaller ones struck in the Yellowstone area. This fed the fear that the long-dormant supervolcano underneath the park may be gearing up for a devastating eruption. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicts that if a super eruption like this were to happen, the effects would be worldwide and the pyroclastic flows would reach several different states.

However, neither of these events was ever likely to happen. While a strike from Asteroid 2018VP1 was a possibility, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office announced that there was only a 0.41 percent chance of an asteroid breaching the atmosphere. In addition, 2018VP1 is only six and a half feet long, so, if it were to enter, it would burn up due to its small size and would only graze the Earth with dust. In contrast, should the Yellowstone supereruption occur, the results would be catastrophic. However, according to USGS, this event is also extremely unlikely.

“The chances of this sort of eruption at Yellowstone are exceedingly small,” said USGS. “The rhyolite magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is only 5-15% molten (the rest is solidified but still hot), so it is unclear if there is even enough magma beneath the caldera to feed an eruption.”

Geologists based their eruption predictions on earthquakes in the area taken as signs of lava rising. However, this is also unlikely as it is not uncommon for that area to experience hundreds or even thousands of minor earthquakes every year.

Despite the evidence released which denounces the more dramatic claims concerning these events, some have still prepared for the worst. The American cookie company Oreo finished the construction of a bunker on Oct. 22 designed to withstand the apocalypse. They created the bunker specifically in order to preserve their cookie in the case that Asteroid 2018VP1 destroyed the world 11 days after the completion of their vault.

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