Scientists say the supervolcano in the heart of America’s northwest has the potential to kill 90,000 immediately and cause a ‘nuclear winter’.
This is legit stuff – not Hollywood.
The Yellowstone supervolcano would be one thousand times as powerful as the 1980 Mount St Helens eruption and scientists can’t rule out the eruption may take place soon..
The volcano at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana sits atop a huge reserve of molten rock and last erupted 640,000 years ago.
It is one of the largest active continental silicic volcanic fields in the world. Silicic is used to describe magma or igneous rock rich in silica.
Experts say there is a one in 700,000 annual chance of a volcanic eruption at the site.
The Grand Prismatic hot spring in Yellowstone National Park is among the park’s many hydrothermal features created by the Yellowstone supervolcano. Experts say there is a one in 700,000 annual chance of a volcanic eruption at the site
This USGS graphic shows how a ‘super eruption’ of the molten lava under Yellowstone National Park would spread ash across the United States
Experts say there is a one in 700,000 annual chance of a volcanic eruption at the site. Pictured is an artist’s impression
The eruption, the say, could kill as many as 90,000 people almost instantly and release a 10 ft (3-meter) layer of molten ash 1,000 miles (1,609km) from the park.
‘The ash would block off all points of entry from the ground, and the spread of ash and gases into the atmosphere would stop most air travel, just as it did when a much smaller volcano erupted in Iceland in 2010,’ the magazine writes.
‘Sulphuric gases released from the volcano would spring into the atmosphere and mix with the planet’s water vapour.
‘The haze of gas that could drape the country wouldn’t just dim the sunlight — it also would cool temperatures.’
SCIENTISTS FIND MASSIVE NEW MAGMA CHAMBER UNDER YELLOWSTONE
Previous research found a relatively small magma chamber, known as the upper-crustal magma reservoir, beneath the surface
In the heart of Yellowstone National Park, a supervolcano releases around 45,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each day.
But the magma chamber lying directly beneath its surface is not considered large enough to produce such levels, so researchers have been searching for an alternative source for years.
In April, by tracking seismic waves, geophysicists discovered a huge secondary chamber deeper underground that’s so large its partly-molten rock could fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over.
Previous research found a relatively small magma chamber, known as the upper-crustal magma reservoir, directly beneath the surface in 2013 that measures 2,500 cubic miles (10,420 cubic km).
To discover the latest chamber, Hsin-Hua Huang from the University of Utah and his colleagues tracked seismic waves from almost 5,000 earthquakes.
These readings combined data from the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, which collected shallow readings from nearby quakes in Utah, Idaho, the Teton Range and Yellowstone, and from the Earthscope array, which revealed deeper readings from temblors from more further afield.
Each of these quakes created waves that echoed around the supervolcano.
The movement and structure of these waves could then be used to map the earth beneath.
The researchers said in their paper: ‘The Yellowstone magmatic system from the mantle plume to the upper crust’, published in the journal Science, that the reservoir contains around 98 per cent hot rock.
The remaining 2 per cent is molten rock and is too deep to directly cause an eruption, they added.