- Posted December 15, 2013 by
The researchers were able to find out the true size of the monstrous supervolcano by using a network of seismometers that were placed around the park to map the magma chamber, BBC News reports. "A team found the cavern stretches for more than 90km (55 miles) and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock. The magma chamber was colossal. Reaching depths of between 2km and 15km (1 to 9 miles), the cavern was about 90km (55 miles) long and 30km (20 miles) wide," BBC writes.
Here's what Dr Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah, had to say about the incredible discovery: “We record earthquakes in and around Yellowstone, and we measure the seismic waves as they travel through the ground.
“The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material… with this, we can measure what’s beneath.” He added, “To our knowledge there has been nothing mapped of that size before.”
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By conducting an in depth study of the layers of rock in Yellowstone National Park, researchers think that the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone has erupted at least three times in the past. The first took place around 2.1 million years ago, the second 1.3 million years ago and the most recent eruption happened nearly 640,000 years ago.
According to Prof. Bob Smith, who also teaches at the University of Utah, there is not enough data to properly estimate when the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone could erupt again.
"You can only use the time between eruptions (to work out the frequency), so in a sense you only have two numbers to get to that 700,000 year figure,” Smith said.
“How many people would buy something on the stock market on two days of stock data.”
As previosly reported, the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone threatens whole species with extinction because if an eruption occurs, it could create greatly impact the climate of Earth.
Dr. Farrell finished the interview with the following statement:
“These are really big volcanic eruptions and it would definitely be a global event. It would not only affect the U.S. but it would affect the world."
“All this material that is shot up in the atmosphere would eventually circle the earth and would affect the climate throughout the world.”
It is certainly feasible that the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone could erupt pretty much any day between now and the next 60,000 years. However, the exact date is virtually impossible to predict.