The Surprise eruption of the Calbuco Volcano in Chile has many scientists rethinking the threat of volcano that they do not deem dangerous. For years, it has been known that Yellowstone National Park has hid a supervolcano beneath its soil, possibly one of the biggest in the world, yet the park services has allowed visitors to simply walk upon the soil and take pictures with Old Faithful and other geysers in the park. A new discovery of a massive blob of magma beneath Yellowstone has many scientists wondering if there is a greater danger than previously imagined.
Live Science reported that the blob of magma is much more massive than previously thought to be. Scientists have been aware of the magma’s presence for quite some time, but have never really been able to properly measure its size until now. New studies have revealed that the magma contained within the supervolcano is enough to fill the Grand Canon at least 11 times. The majority of the magma is contained within the lower crust of the Earth, at a depth of between 12 and 28 miles deep. The size of the magma blob is about 44 miles wide and 30 miles long, about 11,200 cubic miles.
Despite the massive size of the magma blob, scientist do not suspect the Yellowstone supervolcano is anymore dangerous that they thought it to be, and believe it is still relatively safe for visitors to view the majestic national park. They believe the pressure is vented enough to hold back a massive eruption in the foreseeable future. Researcher Robert B. Smith says that the discovery may actually help lessen the dangers of the magma blob, as scientists gain a better understanding of the supervolcano and how it reacts with environment. He also believes the chances of an actual eruption in Yellowstone, which could occur within the next few thousand years, is roughly 1 in 70,000, similar odds to being struck by lightening.
“The actual hazard is the same, but now we have a much better understanding of the complete crustal magma system,”
Despite the low chance of eruption, CNN warns that an eruption at Yellowstone would be catastrophic enough to change the world as it is known, making the eruption at Mount St. Helens seem like a firecracker.
In 2003, Yellowstone closed to the public when temperatures rose the temperature of the ground to approximately 200 degrees just a few inches below the surface. Park officials were concerned that visitors might burn their feet. During the time of the closing, some geysers dried out from the heat and sap in some of the trees began to boil.
[Photo Courtesy: NBC News]