Yellowstone Supervolcano more than twice as big as believed

Yellowstone Supervolcano more than twice as big as believed

The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park is 2.5 times larger than previously thought, according to a study from the University of Utah.

More accurate details about the supervolcano’s caldera were discovered by measuring the seismic waves of the underground magma which lies 3 to 9 miles beneath the surface of the earth. The length of the caldera is 88.5 km (~50 miles), and its width measures 29 km (~18 miles).


Yellowstone_Caldera
After Yellowstone and other volcanoes explode, the huge amount of material released often causes the volcano to collapse into a huge crater—a caldera. From nps.gov

The lead author of the study, Jamie Farrell, claims the quantity of lava in the supervolcano has the potential to match its largest blast some 2.1 million years ago. That blast was 2,000 times the size of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

A similar eruption would spew enough volcanic ash into the atmosphere to encircle the earth, said Farrell, with the department of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah.

Such a blast would annihilate Yellowstone National Park and surrounding communities and wipe  vegetation — indeed, entire farms — hundreds of miles away.

Sulfur dioxide would circle the globe and drop temperatures. Worldwide famine would likely ensue.

But is an eruption in the cards?


Yellowstone-Nov13 to 30Mar14


The last Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstone have warned the caldera is overdue to erupt.

Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn’t enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption.

“We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don’t know when,” said Farrell.

A large earthquake at Yellowstone is much more likely than an eruption, Farrell said.

Sources:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/12/17/magma-chamber-beneath-yellowstones-supervolcano-more-than-two-times-larger-than-previously-believed/

http://www.ecanadanow.com/science/2014/03/10/yellowstone-supervolcano-2-5x-larger-than-previously-thought/

http://daltonsminima.altervista.org/

Thanks to Andrew Stranglen and Michele Casati for these links


11 thoughts on “Yellowstone Supervolcano more than twice as big as believed

  1. “large earthquakes ” often precede eruptions ,
    It is a time bomb , do not worry about famine,
    death by silicosis will eliminate many before starvation begins . It may kick the next ice age
    into full swing . Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero !.

  2. admit the idea of releasing some of that pressure before it reaches critical mass, seems like a good idea.
    how to achieve that..dunno

    • We could start by opening up more geothermal plants all over the world. This might begin to release some heat and pressure. Not very much but, we could use the extra energy that would be into the grid, and the jobs created!

    • I seem to recall the USGS stating doing anything to relieve pressure would trigger an eruption – a bit like drilling a hole into an uncorked champagne bottle.

  3. Yellowstone is about 100 miles west of us, so it really makes me feel good to learn there is no danger at the present! They have observed so many of these super sobs,you know! Fiddlin

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