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

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

Researchers studying at Yellowstone National Park believe a supervolcano resting beneath the popular Wyoming destination could erupt sooner rather than later - and the results could be devastating.

USA Today's Matthew Diebel notes that Arizona State University researchers have "analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption and found changes in temperature and composition that had only taken a few decades". Until now, geologists believed it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make that transition.

According to scientists, Yellowstone's supervolcano has erupted three times. It's also news because, as the Times notes, decades are but "a blink of an eye, geologically speaking".

A study co-author and student from the Arizona State University, Hannah Shamloo stated that, "It's shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption".

Furthermore, a 2011 study found that the ground above the magma reservoir in Yellowstone had bulged by roughly 10 inches in seven years, per National Geographic.

Features of the park, such as the Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring that attract visitors from around the world, are signs of a huge magma reservoir rumbling below.

Given that eruptions of supervolcanoes buried on our planet-and there are several-are thought to occur every 100,000 years or so, however, the likelihood of such an event during your lifetime is small, reports the New York Times.

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.

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.

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