The largest dormant volcano in the world, super volcano under the National Park of Yellowstone (located on the territory of the US states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho), has recently become a focus of media attention as one of the possible causes of the explosion that could lead to the end of life on Earth.
Asked if there could really be an explosion of a Yellowstone super volcano, scientist Kelly Martin says it’s something that no one else knows yet, wrote Indy100.
“The last three major eruptions in Yellowstone occurred around 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 630.000 years ago, the intervals of 800, 670, and the last uncompleted, 630 thousand years. Based on the data we have, we cannot say whether statistics can be expected to happen again in a more similarly precise interval. A qualitative assumption could be an interval between 500,000 and a million years, but there is no satisfactory scientific answer.”
Additional data from the study of this volcano indicate that during the last 16.5 million years, there were 15 to 20 eruptions that led to the formation of caldera (large geomorphological forms, similar to the volcano crater only in much larger dimensions). It had erupted once every 825,000 to a million years.
This figure makes the intervals between the eruptions relatively short, as each subsequent one is closer to the previous one, and a million years since the last eruption is due in about “only” 370,000 years.
One of the last studies on the Yellowstone super volcano precisely points to the fact that the eruptions took place more rapidly and closer to one another. Large eruptions, which led for them to be included in some calendars, were usually followed by a series of smaller lava eruptions.
Earlier, scientists believed that these smaller eruptions took place every 1,000 years, which acted as a warning and announcement of large volcanic explosions. More recent studies, however, show that there is a possibility that decades passed, rather than centuries, in between smaller eruptions.
If this proves to be true, the world would have a much smaller chance to get the announcement of a potentially large catastrophe in due time.