Closer to Eruption: Yellowstone’s Super-volcano

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It has been thought that the ‘Super-volcano’ under Yellowstone national park would erupt in thousands upon thousands of years, but expert say now that a closer due date could be in the next few decades.

The study was presented at the IAVCEI 2017 volcanology conference in Portland Oregon. The researchers spent much of the conference discussing the last time the super-volcano erupted, which has been estimated to have been around 631,000 years ago. Before new evidence was found, it was believed that the monolithic volcano took centuries to blow as magma pushed its way towards the surface of Yellowstone. However, instead of a gradual buildup over thousands of years, it could be fewer than 100 years.

Here’s what you should know: The Yellowstone system’s last eruption spewed an estimated 240 cubic miles of matter into the air. 2.1 million years ago an even larger eruption occurred, rocketing 585 cubic miles of rocks and soot into the atmosphere. That’s about 6,000 times the matter spewed from the devestating Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Although this new found data is mighty frightening, volcanologists say that the Yellowstone Supervolcano is still slumbering without a stir. That’s the good news, as for bad news: now we know that it could wake up sooner than before.

“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,” Hannah Shamloo, graduate student at Arizona State University and lead author of the study, said of the findings.

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