Science

Does "supervolcano" under Yellowstone have planet-killing potential?

Does

The researchers from Arizona State University have analyzed the minerals found in the fossilized ash taken out from the latest mega-eruption.

Scientists working in and around Yellowstone National Park say that the supervolcano sitting under the tourist attraction may blow sooner than thought, an eruption that could wipe out life on the planet.

Some 630,000 years ago, a massive eruption rocked the region, spewing the rock and ash that created the Yellowstone caldera, a 40-mile-wide bowl that forms most of the park. Depending on the size of the eruption, the volcano could cover major portions of the United States in risky ash, and the Earth's atmosphere would likely be filled with that same ash.

According to National Geographic, after analysing the ancient ash, the researchers - Hannah Shamloo and Christy Till - found that the changes in temperature and composition only took a few decades.

It's true that researchers have determined they'll have less warning than previously thought the next time the supervolcano erupts. Until now, geologists had thought it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make that transition. A 2011 study related to Yellowstone supervolcano, revealed that the ground above the magma reservoir had bulged by about 10 inches in seven years. However, as per the new study, the magma can rapidly refill making the volcano explosive within a short span of time. And the eruption before that occurred in roughly the same time frame, according to ZME Science.




Till said in an interview that they expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption.

"It's an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high", the University of Utah's Bob Smith, an expert in Yellowstone volcanism, told National Geographic at the time.

Shamloo and Till previously presented their research at a 2016 meeting held by the American Geophysical Union. The US Geological Survey has put the estimated yearly odds of another huge Yellowstone blast at 1 in 730,000 - about the same chance as Earth colliding with an asteroid.

Lead Image: Steam rises off the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the most stunning hydrothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.


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