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Science & Technology

Can the Yellowstone supervolcano be stopped ?

By T.K. Randall
August 19, 2017 · Comment icon 17 comments

Can the heat of the supervolcano be harnessed ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 David Monniaux
NASA has come up with an ambitious new plan to cool down the supervolcano by using it as an energy source.
The natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park attracts thousands of tourists each year, but not far below the surface is an increasingly large chamber of molten hot magma that could erupt at any time.

Containing as much as 200-600 cubic km of molten rock, this vast subterranean cavern is part of one of the largest known supervolcanoes. When it erupts, it will cause untold devastation across hundreds of square miles and impact the climate on a global level.

Now in a renewed bid to stop this from ever happening, scientists at NASA have come up with an ambitious plan to turn the supervolcano in to a near limitless source of geothermal energy.
To do this, a hole would need to be drilled in to the side of the volcano so that water can be pumped through. When this water comes back out, it will be superheated to over 600 degrees.

It might take hundreds or even thousands of years, but if this is done enough times the volcano will slowly cool down until it reaches the point at which it no longer poses a threat.

With the time left before an eruption ticking away, NASA is hoping to implement the plan soon.

If it works, it could provide enough energy to power the entire region for centuries to come.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (17)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by christine007 7 years ago
Can anyone cite an example of man successfully controlling a natural existing element of this magnitude, aside from from polluting vast amounts of natural element with garbage and toxins? Who do you suppose benefits from the fracking? Those left with poisoned water and earthquakes that are destroying their homes as we speak?
Comment icon #9 Posted by christine007 7 years ago
I hate to be having watched the results of the  last two and half  years in one county alone having 190 fracking wells...the truth must be known. It was halted just before Trump became president due to the obvious connection. The earthquakes slowed almost a halt. As soon as it became apparent Trump was in, and de-regulation was forthcoming,  the fracking resumed...and so did the earthquakes. I am simply a realist.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Myles 7 years ago
The Hoover damn is a good one.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
We had a discussion about using volcanos to produce electricity about a year ago in here. I'm glad someone with clout thought of it as well.  One item though, won't the electric plant have to be somewhere nearby to make efficient use of the steam to run the turbines to produce the electricity?  If the Federal Government gets in the electricity business they can put there profits to pay down the deficit. Like that would really happen.  There's no way an electric palnt will be build in or near Yellowstone.
Comment icon #12 Posted by ChaosRose 7 years ago
Ya think? I sounds great in theory, and then you imagine what might happen. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by godnodog 7 years ago
This is not fraking as you are thinking, it uses similar technology but it should be fully clean
Comment icon #14 Posted by godnodog 7 years ago
If a power plant is installed and its profitable someone will make it lose money, so privates corporations can " make it" profitable, cause states dont know how to run stuff, or like I like to call it corruption
Comment icon #15 Posted by AZDZ 7 years ago
  Yes, thus...   No, it probably wouldn't.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
Well that is going to happen regardless so.....
Comment icon #17 Posted by Doug1029 7 years ago
Fracking is actually done by a separate company using different equipment.  Frackers are not drillers. BUT, there are some unemployed drillers and rough necks out there. The other detail is that we would probably have about 40 years' warning that an eruption could be imminent.  No need to rush into this. Doug

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