THE eruption of a “supervolcano” hundreds of times more powerful than conventional volcanoes – with the potential to wipe out civilisation as we know it – is more likely than previously thought, a study has found.
An analysis of the molten rock within the dormant supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States has revealed that an eruption is possible without any external trigger, scientists said.
Scientists previously believed many supervolcanic eruptions needed earthquakes to break open the earth’s crust so that the magma could escape. But new research suggests that this can happen as a result of the build-up of pressure.
Supervolcanoes represent the second-most globally cataclysmic event – next to an asteroid strike – and they have been responsible in the past for mass extinctions, long-term changes to the climate and shorter-term “volcanic winters” caused by volcanic ash cutting out the sunlight. More . .