Yellowstone timebomb – Over 11,000 MILES of magma just waiting to spew from park

MORE than 11,000 cubic miles of magma is waiting to burst from beneath the world’s most dangerous volcano in Yellowstone National Park in the US.

 

Yellowstone timebomb

 

 

By conducting a number of numerical simulations of this process, the research team showed that these large reservoirs are crucial to generating the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth.But, fortunately, the team also showed that these large reservoirs can take millions of years to form, hence why ‘super-eruptions’ happen so rarely.Yellowstone is believed to have seen super eruptions at intervals of two million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago, meaning another one could be due any time.

It is believed the new findings could help to understanding why some volcanoes erupt frequently and at certain magnitudes.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the amount of magma that is stored in the upper layer of the Earth’s crust determines the frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions.

Small eruptions that erupt less than one cubic kilometre of material occur very frequently (from daily to yearly), while the largest eruptions that erupt hundreds of cubic kilometres of material are infrequent, with hundreds of thousands of years between them.

Up until now, this theory hasn’t been able to explain how the magma can maintain its heat in these near-surface reservoirs and thus produce extremely powerful eruptions.

Dr Wim Degruyter

Co-author of the study Dr Wim Degruyter, from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, said: “Our current understanding tells us that hot magma can be injected from the Earth’s lower crust into colder surroundings near the surface.

“At this point, the magma can either erupt or cool down to such a point that the magma solidifies and an eruption does not occur.

“Up until now, this theory hasn’t been able to explain how the magma can maintain its heat in these near-surface reservoirs and thus produce extremely powerful eruptions.

“Our study has shown that the key to this is much larger reservoirs deeper below the surface that are able to slowly increase the temperature in the upper part of the crust such that it becomes more amenable to the storage of magma.

“When the crust has become fully mature, giant reservoirs are able to form in the upper crust and thus we see extremely powerful eruptions.”

 

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