Scientists now believe Yellowstone’s volcano could erupt much sooner.
Researchers studied remnants of the previous eruption and found that the process that leads from the first signs of significant shallow magma formation to eruption is much shorter than previously thought, National Geographic reported. Scientists now believe the process may take mere decades, and brings the possibility of eruption closer.
Yellowstone supervolcano could produce cataclysmic eruption much faster than we thought https://t.co/hYxcDotLyO
— IBTimes UK (@IBTimesUK) October 11, 2017
“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, an Arizona State University graduate student involved in the study, to The New York Times. “We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State.
More time is needed to predict a more exact timeframe, but prior to the most recent study, scientists from NASA were seeking ways to prevent an eruption. They thought that by cooling the magma near the surface of the caldera (crater) that they could slow down any potential eruption, the BBC reported.
Because this most recent study shows the process leading to an eruption is much shorter, scientists would have to recalculate how much cooling power they would need to generate and if it would even be possible to generate enough to make a difference.
Yellowstone supervolcano could blow faster than thought, destroy all of mankind https://t.co/oPI4bJL3KJ
— Juan Rios Gaspard (@JuanGaspard) October 12, 2017
The Yellowstone volcano is one of about 20 known supervolcanoes. The last time Yellowstone erupted was 630,000 years ago. Due to the increased activity at the site, scientists predict an eruption could occur as soon as the 2030s, it has been reported.
A Category 8 eruption would devastate the United States and wipe out a major portion of the country. Hot ash could cover 20 states, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said in an interview with Fox News.
According to The New York Times, an eruption would spew 2,500 times more material than the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption in which 57 people were killed.