Supervolcano Apocalypse: You Only Get One Year Prep Time For Eruption Destruction

Norman Byrd

Scientists are now saying that the window of opportunity for preparing for a supervolcano can be measured in months, as in twelve of them. And then, a supervolcanic cataclysm will test the mettle of all life on Earth. Apparently, a supervolcano that produces evidence of its imminent eruption is actually already on the verge of it.

Business Insider reported July 26 that a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago, by studying patterns in the magmatic crystals of a 760,000-year-old California supervolcano eruption, found that when one of the massive magma-filled calderas reached their pressure point, eruption is basically a fait accompli.

The team of researchers note in the study, which has been published in PLOS ONE, that the fluctuations in pressure within a magma chamber, once its reaches capacity, is recorded in the crystals that are formed as a result of the fluctuations. Just before the magma erupts, pressure drops quickly, ever accelerating, as gas escapes from the liquid magma. This is known as the "decompression stage." From the end of the chamber's recharge period (the time it takes from an eruption to build up pressure to erupt again) to the next eruption, it was found that no more than a year elapses. The recharge period itself has a time span that some scientists have determined consists of approximately 500 years, while others maintain it can take as long as tens of thousands of years.

The research team believes that a supervolcano eruption is the end-all when it comes to geologic disasters.

"Supereruptions have been described as the ultimate geologic hazard. Understanding the potential hazards associated with supereruptions is the ultimate geologic exercise."

Predictions of a supervolcano erupting have become standard doomsday fare. The Yellowstone supervolcano is often offered up as an apocalyptic monster just waiting to erupt and end life on Earth as we know it. LiveScience explored the "what if" of a Yellowstone supereruption in May, pointing out that the massive supervolcano has erupted three times in the past 2.1 million years. According to CNN, researchers at the University of Utah last year found that just one of the magma chambers -- one that had previously gone unrecognized -- underneath Yellowstone National Park made the supervolcano 2.5 times larger than it was previously thought to be. In fact, data indicated that just the one magma chamber, which happened to be the topmost chamber, held enough magma to fill the Grand Canyon 14 times over.

But as for human survivability, scientists believe the species has what it takes to survive a supervolano eruption. Jamie Farrell, a Yellowstone expert and assistant research professor at the University of Utah, said that we have made it through quite a few other supereruptions, according to LiveScience.

"Are we all going to die if Yellowstone erupts? Almost certainly the answer is no. There have been quite a few supereruptions in the past couple million years, and we're still around."

In fact, since humans have been around for at least 2.8 million years (the earliest use of tools is dated to this time by anthropological evidence in Ethiopia, according to BBC News). The worst supervolcano eruption within that time period occurred roughly 2.5 million years ago (called the Toba supereruption, named for Mount Toba in Africa). It appears rather obvious that such supereruptions do not have to equate to human extinction. As revealed in a 2013 LiveScience report, scientists studying the Toba supereruption found that the series of eruptions that produced ash in vast amounts spewed as far away as 4,350 miles (7,000 kilometers) and, although it has been posited, did not produce a volcanic winter or alter the climate in a significant way.

So you've got only one year to prepare for a supervolcano like the one at Yellowstone when it begins its decompression phase. Relax, it's not the end of the world. For that to happen, as reported by Inquisitr, there has to be a magnetic polar shift in conjunction with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Or, as with the doomsayers with regard to supervolano eruptions, perhaps not...

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