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|Written by||Edward Canfor-Dumas|
|Directed by||Tony Mitchell|
|Theme music composer||Ty Unwin|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||115 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||13 March 2005 (UK)|
10 April 2005 (Canada)
Supervolcano is a 2005 British-Canadian disaster television film that originally aired on 13 March 2005 on BBC One, and released by the BBC on 10 April 2005 on the Discovery Channel. It is centered on the speculated and potential eruption of the volcanic caldera of Yellowstone National Park. Its tagline is "Scientists know it as the deadliest volcano on Earth. You know it...as Yellowstone."
Richard Lieberman, the scientist in charge of Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, gives a press conference with his colleagues Jock Galvin, Dave, Matt and Nancy, and their boss, Michael Eldridge, to present their new virtual imagery simulator VIRGIL, which Eldgridge claims will greatly aid in their research. Reporter Maggie Chin asks about the possibility of an eruption, which Rick dismisses as a remote possibility.
After an earthquake triggers a tsunami on one of the park’s lakes, Maggie interviews Kenneth "Ken" Wylie on TV about his new book on volcanoes. Rick is upset by Ken’s appearance and it is revealed that the two are brothers-in-law. Rick and Ken later argue, with Rick accusing Ken of creating a mass panic in order to sell his book.
The undersecretary of FEMA visits and asks Rick about the worst-case scenario if Yellowstone does release a super eruption. He shows her a simulation, revealing the devastating results of an ashfall across the US.
After a hydrothermal event at the Norris Geyser Basin and more questions from the press, Rick's team runs a simulation of possible eruptions on VIRGIL. They learn that even a moderate eruption could potentially destabilize the rest of the magma chamber under Yellowstone and trigger a super eruption. Rick’s colleagues go to a field office cabin in the park to gather more information.
After more seismic events, the park is closed. Maggie Chin comes to Yellowstone anyway, and Rick sends Matt to give her a personal tour of the park. They find harmonic tremors near Norris, indicating that an eruption of unknown scale is imminent. Shortly afterward, animals begin to flee the park.
An email about the expected eruption leaks to the press, causing a national panic. FEMA schedules a press conference in Washington, DC, at which Rick is pressured into saying that the eruption will not be large.
While Rick is flying back from the conference, his colleagues in the field office finish plugging in the latest data for the eruption. They discover that the top of the magma chamber alone has more than enough eruptable magma to destabilize the chamber and trigger a super eruption. As they realize this, the volcano erupts violently, severely damaging the field office. The resulting pyroclastic flow overtakes and kills Nancy and Matt as they flee in a truck while Jock is rescued by helicopter.
Rick contacts Dave, another team member who left before the eruption to set up a backup office in Bozeman. They work to figure out the vent's size and communicate with FEMA. Meanwhile, FEMA discovers that the vent is blowing ash east across the US and across major commercial air routes, prompting them to clear American airspace and take other protective measures. Rick's flight goes directly into the ash cloud, damaging the airplane's engines, and they make an emergency landing in Cheyenne. Caught under the ashfall, they set out to find a nearby military installation.
Dave, with his link to FEMA, finds more vents beginning to open in the caldera. Before he can observe more than five vents opening up, the motel roof collapses due to heavy ashfall, destroying the backup office and killing him.
Rick makes contact with FEMA and determines that the vents are going to merge into one massive caldera in an eruption on the scale of the Huckleberry Ridge Eruption, the largest in Yellowstone’s history.
Government officials try to come up with a plan to save the 25 million people trapped by the ashfall, but Rick convinces them that they cannot possibly hope to do so; the ash will make it impossible for planes to safely evacuate people or drop supplies. Instead, following his advice, FEMA creates the “Walk to Life” program, telling people to walk through the ash to safety.
One week after the eruption started, the ground above the magma chamber begins to fall into the empty space left by the ejected magma, signalling the end of the eruption. However, the lingering atmospheric effects throw the world into a volcanic winter. Much of the US has been rendered uninhabitable. The Walk to Life program saved 7.3 million of the 25 million people trapped by the ash, including Rick and Ken, who managed to walk out of the ashfall.