Great news: Yellowstone supervolcano eruptions were more extreme than previously thought

Great news: Yellowstone supervolcano eruptions were more extreme than previously thought
Target-rich environment. (Image via yellowstonepark.com)

[Ed. – For those of you who just don’t have enough to worry about.]

While scientists have long known that the supervolcano now under Yellowstone left a trail of mega-eruptions across the Pacific Northwest, an international research team has found evidence of only 12 distinct eruptions, contradicting earlier theories that the eruptions were more numerous and less extreme.

“The size and magnitude of this newly defined eruption is as large, if not larger, than better known eruptions at Yellowstone,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Thomas Knott, in a University of Leicester press release, “and it is just the first in an emerging record of newly discovered super-eruptions during a period of intense magmatic activity between 8 and 12 million years ago.” …

Yellowstone certainly remains volcanically lively. In 2013, a study found that Yellowstone’s “supervolcano” was even larger than scientists had previously believed, with a magma chamber stretching 55 miles long, and 18 miles wide.

If the Yellowstone supervolcano explodes, says the 2013 study, the resulting eruption could be up to 2,000 times as violent as the Mt. St. Helens eruption several decades ago.

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