Geologists were astonished after they recently discovered that the size of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park is far bigger than previously thought. A new study revealed that the magma chamber of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone is about 2.5 times larger than earlier estimates suggested, according to a Dec. 12 report from CBS Las Vegas.
Yellowstone National Park is known worldwide for its wide variety of wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. However, few are aware of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone which, if it erupts, could cause worldwide climate damage and even wipe out the U.S.
As explained by BBC News, the supervolcano's cavern stretches over 55 miles and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.
According to the study, it is unknown when the next major eruption from the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone will happen, but geologists fear that a massive eruption is long overdue.
The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone is the same volcanic field which produced the latest three super-eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot; it also produced one additional smaller eruption, thereby creating West Thumb Lake 174,000 years ago. Wikipedia writes that the last three super eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago.
The most recent lava flow occurred about 70,000 years ago, while a violent eruption excavated the West Thumb of Lake Yellowstone around 150,000 years ago. Smaller steam explosions occur as well; an explosion 13,800 years ago left a massive crater at Mary Bay on the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
The enormous size of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone was mapped by a network of seismometers that were situated around the park, explained Dr Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah.
“To our knowledge there has been nothing mapped of that size before,” Dr Farrell expressed.
“We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger,” said Bob Smith, University of Utah professor. “But this finding is astounding.”
Geologists and scientists are closely monitoring the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone. However, as mentioned above, there is no way to accurately predict when the next major eruption will occur.
"There is an imminent danger," says Guillaume Giraud, an associate professor at Michigan State University. "All studies conclude that there is magma ready to erupt in the near future."