Scientists say that the Yellowstone supervolcano gets stronger every year, and they now think they know why. An 1,800-mile deep “hotspot” has been discovered under the caldera which scientists believe is the volcano’s heat source.
Yellowstone’s hotspot is situated within our planet’s mantle, and scientists believe it is part of a surge of atypically hot rock known as a mantle plume, according to a recent study. They are thought to begin some 1,850 miles below Earth’s surface at the boundary separating the mantle from the core.
Researchers and scientists have been studying Yellowstone in hopes of preventing or at least having some advanced warning when the supervolcano next erupts. “A supervolcano explosion is capable of “plunging the world into a catastrophe” and pushing humanity “to the brink of existence,” NASA researchers wrote in a 2015 study. The information we have on the rare eruptions today are estimates based on the geologic record and the massive deposits left behind by them.
The ash spewed by such an explosion could create a global “volcanic winter” by blanketing parts of continents with soot. Using prediction models from Yellowstone’s last major eruption 630,000 years ago, the researchers revealed Yellowstone could produce more than a meter of volcanic ash in its immediate vicinity. As you can see, the ash would blanket a vast majority of the United States.
But NASA’s plan to help “fix” an eruption could have the opposite effect. The space agency suggested drilling into the volcano to release heat, making it less volatile. But that comes with potentially humanity eliminating consequences. “It has been suggested that the hydrothermal circulation at Yellowstone may cool the underlying magma and may lead to decreased long-term volcanic hazards,” wrote the scientists.
More research needs to be done to figure out how to best protect the planet from a supervolcano eruption, the researchers also said. As of now, people would have mere minutes at most should the Yellowstone volcano erupt. That would not be enough time to save lives.
But scientists also say that it isn’t going to erupt all that soon. We seem to get evidence to the contrary seemingly daily, yet those studying the caldera ask to trust them when they say it’s acting completely normal. The Washington Post recently wrote an article titled “The Yellowstone Supervolcano is a Disaster Waiting To Happen.” Yet right in their article, they state:
The Yellowstone region has seen three big eruptions, the first one 2.1 million years ago, the most recent 630,000 years ago. Contrary to Internet rumor-mongering, as well as conspiracy theories about government coverups, there’s no sign that a fourth cataclysmic event is about to happen. –The Washington Post