A new “supervolcano” is brewing under the Earth’s surface, and it’s not where you’d expect. Unless you expected New England, that is.
Volcanoes and so-called “supervolcanoes” are a fixture of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire, or of Yellowstone National Park (which is itself just one giant caldera of one giant supervolcano). They’re not a fixture of the bucolic countrysides of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. But that’s about to change, as scientists have discovered a dome of magma bubbling up underneath the surface there, and it’s only a matter of time before it escapes.
Don’t start packing your bags just yet, though. Things move slowly in the world of geology, and here “a matter of time” in this context means “in tens of millions of years.”
Rutgers University geophysicist and professor Vadim Levin says that he and his team were taken aback by the brewing threat happening in New England.
“Our study challenges the established notion of how the continents on which we live behave. It challenges the textbook concepts taught in introductory geology classes.”
New England is considered “geologically stable,” having had no volcanic eruptions in, oh, several million years.
But Dr. Levin’s team began noticing an area of rock, about 124 miles under the Earth’s surface and about 250 miles in diameter, underneath those three states.
“It is a very large and relatively stable region, but we found an irregular pattern with rather abrupt changes in it.”
Crunching the data, Dr. Levin’s team determined that the emergence of the bubble of molten rock is a relatively recent event — in geologic terms, that is.
“It will likely take millions of years for the upwelling to get where it’s going. The next step is to try to understand how exactly it’s happening.”
According to Canadian Homesteading, the New England supervolcano may be even bigger than what is currently thought. That’s because Dr. Levin’s team still has incomplete data, and will need considerably more research before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
As for when the molten rock will finally pop through the surface, Dr. Levin cracks wise.
“Come back in 50 million years, and we’ll see what happens.”
Of course, volcanoes are no laughing matter — just ask the people of Hawaii. And supervolcanoes are even less funny: if the Yellowstone Caldera erupts, the effects will be devastating, according to Vox. Fortunately, hyperbolic media reports that the Caldera is “due” for another eruption are, at best, wishful thinking, and indeed, the Caldera may never erupt again — at least, not while humans continue to occupy the Earth in our present form.