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Posted: October 12, 2017

Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt much sooner than predicted, study reveals


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Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt much sooner than predicted, study reveals
*** EXCLUSIVE *** YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - MAY 2016: The pools steam and bubble, reminding you that this volcano is well overdue an eruption, taken in May 2016, in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. WITNESSING the beautiful spectrum of colours in Yellowstone National Park springs, you could almost forget youre standing on a supervolcano way past its eruption due date. The extraterrestrial-looking mineral-rich pools are caused by bacteria and thermophiles growing around the edges, creating the striking colours. The heat from three super eruptions thousands of years ago still powers the parks geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots, indicating how frighteningly active this volcano is directly under visitors feet. PHOTOGRAPH BY Russell Pearson / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftmedia.com (Photo credit should read Russell Pearson /Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

By Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

If the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park erupted tomorrow, life as we know it would come to an abrupt, yet perhaps agonizingly slow, end.

>> Read more trending news

Ash from a mega-eruption at Yellowstone would spread across the U.S., covering nearby states such as Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Montana in up to three feet of ash, according to a 2014 study of what might happen if a supervolcano erupted, and blanketing the Midwest and other parts of the U.S., killing animals and plants, affecting the power grid and destroying buildings, causing a volcanic winter. 

Up to now, scientists thought another supervolcano eruption might not occur for centuries, but a new study by researchers at Arizona State University found it could happen much sooner -- in just decades, according to National Geographic.

The ASU scientists studied minerals in fossilized ash around the volcano and discovered that the critical changes in temperature and composition that would signal an impending eruption occurred in a matter of decades, not centuries, National Geographic reported.

The park basically sits on a giant magma reservoir inside three overlapping calderas, or bowl-shaped depressions formed when an underground magma chamber erupted, Live Science reported

According to scientists, Yellowstone’s supervolcano has erupted three times. The first eruption occurred just over 2 million years ago. The second blast struck 1.3 million years ago and the last eruption happened 640,000 years ago.

>> Related: Man dissolves after trying to soak in Yellowstone hot pool

Arizona State researchers told The New York Times more studies are needed before an absolute conclusion about another supervolcano eruption can be determined. 


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