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Science & Technology

Supervolcano could erupt sooner than thought

By T.K. Randall
October 13, 2017 · Comment icon 10 comments

When will the supervolcano erupt again ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Miguel Hermoso Cuesta
The enormous supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park could erupt with only a few years' warning.
The natural beauty and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park attract thousands of tourists from all over the world on an annual basis, but not far below the park's serene surface is an increasingly large chamber of molten hot magma with the potential to erupt at any time.

When the inevitable does eventually happen, the Yellowstone supervolcano will cause untold devastation across hundreds of square miles and impact the climate on a global level.

The last time an eruption occurred was 631,000 years ago, suggesting that another one is long overdue, however exactly when this might happen has long remained a bit of a mystery.
Now scientists studying fossilized ash deposits from earlier eruptions have reached the unsettling conclusion that a future eruption could occur with far less warning than previously thought.

Rather than knowing about such an eruption centuries or even thousands of years in advance, we may only have mere decades to prepare and perhaps even less time than that.

"It's one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup - it's another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade," said geochemist Kari Cooper.

Source: New York Times | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
I live 150 miles from Yellowstone... 
Comment icon #2 Posted by spud the mackem 7 years ago
Yea it has a limited shelf life, but the same thing was quoted more than 45 years ago, around the time the guys were going to the moon, which eclipsed the Yellowstone story.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Essan 7 years ago
Since it has long been expected to erupt sometime in the next few thousand years - and , if anything, an eruption is overdue - it cant erupt earlier than thought   They mean, it could erupt with less warning than previously thought. the question is: if there were signs of an eruption within the next 20 years, what would the POTUS do?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Solipsi Rai 7 years ago
I'm more worried about a M8+ earthquake along the San Andreas fault in CA than the Yellowstone caldera "supereruption" prediction. Not sure how much area it will devastate, might be as far away as Salt Lake City, UT or the Canadian border in Montana. Volcanic ashfall clouds can cover most of the mainland US, parts of Canada and even travel across the Atlantic to western Europe. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Nzo 7 years ago
There is literally nothing we can do about it. It spans 3 U.S. States if I am not correct. Drilling holes may actually make the problem infinitely worse. Now we get Doomsday scenarios from the academics as well as psychologically damaged individuals. Enjoy your lives, dont hurt anyone or anything and dont worry about the doomsayers. Newsflash you were born to die.
Comment icon #6 Posted by glorybebe 7 years ago
I have been aware of this and my thought is what would happen if there was a shifting in the San Andreas?  Would that increase the threat or reduce it?  If western US was bombed by NK, could that increase the likelihood of an eruption due to the tremors caused by explosions?  We have seen how some studies link fracking to small earthquakes
Comment icon #7 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Yeah, and if several high-yield nukes actually targeted Yellowstone, set to "ground blast"...        
Comment icon #8 Posted by glorybebe 7 years ago
I know scary thoughts.   
Comment icon #9 Posted by DanL 2 years ago
IF the idiot that runs North Korea were to launch a missile I seriously doubt that it would get a hundred miles out of their air space before we shot it down... AND then blew huge parts of North Korea into dust.
Comment icon #10 Posted by MysteryMike 2 years ago
When you say sooner, that could mean thousands of years from now. Nothing to worry about, move along.

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