New Research Sheds Light on Yellowstone Caldera Mechanics

New Research Sheds Light on Yellowstone Caldera Mechanics

If the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park erupted tomorrow, life as we know it would come to an abrupt, yet perhaps agonizingly slow, end.

It's true that researchers have determined they'll have less warning than previously thought the next time the supervolcano erupts. Also, another report informed that another eruption occurred about 1.3 million years ago which indicates that both the mega-volcanoes had nearly the same time frame of the eruption.

Scientists from Arizona State University who analysed minerals in fossilised ash from the most recent mega-eruption about 630,000 years ago found the supervolcano woke up after fresh magma flowed into the caldera, a 64-kilometre-wide bowl, National Geographic reported.

This undated photo provided by Robert B. Smith shows the Grand Prismatic hot spring in Yellowstone National Park's that is among the park's myriad hydrothermal features created by the fact that Yellowstone is a supervolcano, the largest type of volcano on Earth. Previously, researchers believed it would take centuries for these changes to take place. However, as per the new study, the magma can rapidly refill making the volcano explosive within a short span of time.

Graduate student Hannah Shamloo says, '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'. But after examining fossilized ash, researchers at the University of Arizona realized that the conditions for a super eruption can happen in only a few decades. Inside, they tracked the changes that the volcano went through before its eruption. The pair also presented an earlier version of their study at a 2016 meeting of the American Geophysical Union. While a handful of smaller belches and quakes have periodically filled the caldera with lava and ash, the last one happened about 70,000 years ago.

In June, nearly 400 earthquakes hit the Yellowstone supervolcano, but researchers said that it was not a case of worry. For its part, the U.S. Geological Survey puts the rough yearly odds of another massive Yellowstone blast at 1 in 730,000-about the same chance as a catastrophic asteroid collision.

"We are all just living at the mercy of the super volcano under Yellowstone".