A supervolcano currently lies dormant underneath the Yellowstone National Park, but once it prepares for its next eruption, we will not have much time to prepare for the disastrous event.
The troubling findings were presented at the IAVCEI 2017 volcanology conference in Portland, raising fresh concerns on how the world will deal with the Yellowstone supervolcano if it decides to wake up.
Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption Will Not Need Much Time To Build Up
The supervolcano hiding under the Yellowstone National Park deserves such a name. It is capable of releasing over 1,000 cubic kilometers of ash and rock at once, which is about 2,500 times more compared to the material expelled by the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980.
The Yellowstone supervolcano, if it erupts, will cover most of the United States in a very thick ash layer, and will also likely transform the Earth's weather into a volcanic winter. Even more concerning is the fact that we might not be given enough time to prepare for such a disaster.
Scientists previously thought that if the Yellowstone supervolcano starts to rumble and its magma chambers start filling up for an explosion, it would take centuries before the eruption takes place. However, according to new research, it would only take decades, significantly reducing the expected preparation time that we would have for the disaster.
The findings were the result of a study carried out by a team from Arizona State University. They discovered that the build-up for the Yellowstone supervolcano's last eruption about 631,000 years ago started when new magma moved into its system just decades before the explosion.
"It's shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption," said Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student and one of the members of the team. This means that the Yellowstone supervolcano can go from its current level activity to its next eruption as soon as about 2030. When the supervolcano will start exhibiting signs that it is building up for an explosion, however, is anybody's guess.
Yellowstone Supervolcano Research
This research is just one among many studies being conducted on the Yellowstone supervolcano, which has also made appearances in various films, novels, and other media.
Last year, two separate studies discovered evidence of 12 giant super eruptions around the Yellowstone hotspot track and cast doubt on the Yellowstone supervolcano origin. Two years ago, a study painted a bleak picture of the damage that a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption can cause, with molten lava covering the Earth's surface, thick clouds of smoke in the atmosphere, and up to 90,000 immediate fatalities.