'Sleeping' supervolcanoes 'could erupt much more quickly than we thought'


Researchers, according to The New York Times, believe the resting supervolcano has the ability to spew more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash, which is 2,500 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone's most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. They had previously thought it would take centuries for such changes to take place.

A powerful eruption occurred roughly 630,000 years ago, according to National Geographic, shaking the region and creating the Yellowstone caldera - a bowl about 40 miles wide the encompasses much of the park.

Arizona State University researchers have analyzed minerals around the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park and have come to a startling conclusion. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground.

The minerals revealed that changes in temperature and composition built up in only decades.

'We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption, ' said Christy Tillat Arizona State, in an interview with the New York Times. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.

Based on the latest study, it appears the magma can rapidly refresh - making the volcano potentially explosive in the geologic blink of an eye.

So, yes, geologically speaking, an eruption of the supervolcano could happen sooner than previously thought.

Researchers recently studied the fossilised ash deposit from its last supereruption.

Scientists hope to use the research to predict when future supereruptions might occur - allowing enough time to develop technologies to prevent the disaster.

In 2012, other scientists reported that at least one of the past super-eruptions may have really been two events - suggesting that such large-scale events may be more common than thought.