Science, Tech, Math › Science These Are the World's Largest Calderas Share Flipboard Email Print Kevin Thrash/Moment/Getty Images Science Geology Landforms and Geologic Features Types Of Rocks Geologic Processes Plate Tectonics Chemistry Biology Physics Astronomy Weather & Climate by Andrew Alden Andrew Alden is a geologist who writes extensively about all aspects of geology, and leads research expeditions for professional organizations. Updated July 25, 2019 Product Disclosure $$ Calderas are large craters formed by volcanic explosions or by unsupported surface rock collapsing into empty magma chambers beneath the ground. They sometimes are referred to as supervolcanoes. One way to understand calderas is to think of them as reverse volcanoes. Volcanic eruptions often will be the cause of magma chambers being left empty and leaving the volcano above unsupported. This can cause the ground above, sometimes an entire volcano, to collapse into the empty chamber. Yellowstone Park Yellowstone Park is perhaps the most well-known caldera in the United States, drawing millions of tourists every year. According to Yellowstone's website, the supervolcano was the site of massive eruptions 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago, and 640,000 years ago. Those eruptions were, respectively, 6,000 times, 70 times, and 2,500 times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. Explosive Force What today is known as Lake Toba in Indonesia is the result of perhaps the greatest volcanic eruption since the dawn of early man. Approximately 74,000 years ago, Mount Toba's eruption produced about 2,500 times more volcanic ash than Mount St. Helens. This led to a volcanic winter that had a devastating effect on the entire human population of the time. The volcanic winter lasted six years and led to a 1,000-year-long ice age, according to research, and the world population was reduced to about 10,000 adults. Potential Modern Impact Research into how a massive eruption would impact the world day shows the effects to be potentially devastating. One study focusing on Yellowstone suggests another eruption comparable in size to the three biggest ones of the past 2.1 million years would kill 87,000 people instantly. The volume of ash would be enough to collapse rooftops in states surrounding the park. Everything within about 60 miles would be destroyed, most of the western United States would be covered in about 4 feet of ash, and an ash cloud would spread across the entire planet, casting it in shadow for days. The impact on vegetation could lead to food shortages across the planet. Visiting the Largest Calderas on the Planet Yellowstone is just one of many calderas throughout the world. Like Yellowstone, many of the others can be interesting and fascinating places to visit and to study. Below is a list of the world's largest calderas: Caldera name Country Location Size(km) Mostrecenteruption La Pacana Chile 23.10 S67.25 W 60 x 35 Pliocene PastosGrandes Bolivia 21.45 S67.51 W 50 x 40 8.3 Ma Kari Kari Bolivia 19.43 S65.38 W 30 Unknown Cerro Galan Argentina 25.57 S65.57 W 32 2.5 Ma Awasa Ethiopia 7.18 N38.48 E 40 x 30 Unknown Toba Indonesia 2.60 N98.80 E 100 x 35 74 ka Tondano Indonesia 1.25 N124.85 E 30 x 20 Quaternary Maroa/Whakamaru NewZealand 38.55 S176.05 E 40 x 30 500 ka Taupo NewZealand 38.78 S176.12 E 35 1,800 yr Yellowstone USA-WY 44.58 N110.53 W 85 x 45 630 ka La Garita USA-CO 37.85 N106.93 W 75 x 35 27.8 Ma Emory USA-NM 32.8 N107.7 W 55 x 25 33 Ma Bursum USA-NM 33.3 N108.5 W 40 x 30 28-29 Ma Longridge(McDermitt) USA-OR 42.0 N117.7 W 33 ~16 Ma Socorro USA-NM 33.96 N107.10 W 35 x 25 33 Ma TimberMountain USA-NV 37 N116.5 W 30 x 25 11.6 Ma ChinatiMountains USA-TX 29.9 N104.5 W 30 x 20 32-33 Ma Long Valley USA-CA 37.70 N118.87 W 32 x 17 50 ka greater MalySemiachik/Pirog Russia 54.11 N159.65 E 50 ~50 ka greater BolshoiSemiachik Russia 54.5 N160.00 E 48 x 40 ~50 ka greaterIchinsky Russia 55.7 N157.75 E 44 x 40 ~50 ka greaterPauzhetka Russia 51 N157 E ~40 300 ka greaterKsudach Russia 51.8 N157.54 E ~35 ~50 ka Source: Cambridge Volcanology Group caldera database Continue Reading What Happens When a Volcano Erupts? What's Happening With the Yellowstone Supervolcano? Here's Why Composite Volcano Eruptions Are So Destructive Geysers: Nature's Watery Pressure Valves Facts About Mount St. Helens Learn About the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Volcanic Eruption Who Made the Oldest Known Hominin Footprints at Laetoli? Discover the History of Iceland Learn About the 19th Century's Largest Volcanic Eruption Causes of Landslide Tsunamis The Countries of the Caribbean Region The Fourth Mass Extinction: Triassic-Jurassic Period May 18, 1980: a Look Back at the Deadly Eruption of Mount St. Helens Free Print Outs to Teach Students About Volcanoes Shield Volcanoes: An Overview What Was the Biggest Volcanic Eruption in History?