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Supervolcano beneath Yellowstone: What its eruption would be like

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The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is about two-and-a-half time larger than scientists originally thought it was, which means an eruption would be an epic force of nature.

CBS Local reported Dec. 12 that Dr. James Farrell of the University of Utah spoke with BBC Radio before he attended the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco where the findings were officially presented on Friday.

Dr. Farrell said an eruption by the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone would result in an explosion 2,000 times larger than that of Mount St. Helens back in the spring of 1980

“We know there’s been these really large volcanic eruptions in the past and what we’re seeing now matches that,” Farrell said. “We see that there is indeed a large magma reservoir and that there is the potential for large volcanic eruptions in the future, although that would be in the far future.”

The finding shows that supervolcano stretches more than 55 miles beneath Yellowstone's surface.

“The real consequence of this new discovery is that what we see using these geophysical methods really matches what we see in the geologic past,” Farrell added.

The Yellowstone supervolcano last exploded 640,000 years ago and volcanoes are believed to erupt every 700,000 years. Luckily, it could be a while before this volcano blows up again. When the supervolcano last erupted, it spread ashes all over North America.

An eruption next time will be far more catastrophic.

Farrell continued, “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,” Farrell stated. “All this material that is shot up in the atmosphere would eventually circle the earth and would affect the climate throughout the world.”

There will be some warnings as to when this event will take place given technological advances in seismic detectors.

“We believe that if there was going to be an eruption we would have advanced warning magma was moving beneath the surface,” Farrell said.

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