Yellowstone Supervolcano: Scientists fear it may be due to erupt

The giant magma pool could be closer to erupting than previously thought – and a equivalent super-eruption almost wiped out humans 74,000 years ago.

Geologists had believed it took between 100,000 to 200,000 years for a supervolcano magma pool to develop up adequate pressure to erupt.

But the new study suggests that the giant magma bodies may only exist for a couple of thousand years, or even a few hundred, before exploding.

A magma reservoir six miles below Yellowstone has been rising at a record rate since 2004.

The Wyoming park sits above a gigantic plume of hot and molten rock that begins at least 400 miles beneath Earth’s surface and rises to 30 miles underground, where it widens to about 300 miles across.

Blobs of magma occasionally break off from the top of the plume, and rise farther, resupplying the magma chamber beneath the Yellowstone Caldera.

Resembling the lid of a cooking pot, the caldera formed when the last super-eruption occurred 600,000 years ago.

The supervolcano has erupted a total of three times in the last 2.1 million years. Scientists believe it could be due to erupt once again.

The scientists based their estimate on quartz crystallisation rates. Previous studies have relied on the growth of zircon crystals, which is said to be a less accurate method.

A complete scale eruption at Yellowstone would be 1,000 times more potent than the volcanic blast that tore apart Mount St Helens in 1980.

The research is published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.

Sources and more information:

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