Supervolcano Beneath Yellowstone Could Erupt, Wiping Out Life on Earth
By Jake Johnson
Yes, Donald Trump is president. And yes, he has access to the nuclear codes—a fact that has become all too vivid in recent weeks. But many allowed themselves to forget, if only for a brief moment, about the man in the White House on Thursday to hone their attention on what is potentially an even more horrifying development.
USA Today's Matthew Diebel noted that Arizona State University researchers have "analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption and found changes in temperature and composition that had only taken a few decades. Until now, the magazine reported, geologists had thought it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make the transition."
"The discovery, which was presented at a recent volcanology conference, comes on top of a 2011 study that found that ground above the magma reservoir in Yellowstone had bulged by about 10 inches in seven years," Diebel adds.
Scientists believe that the volcano's last supereruption took place around 631,000 years ago. As the New York Times noted, researchers "suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event."
Though no one is attempting to put a time frame on the next eruption, Hannah Shamloo of Arizona State University observed that it is "shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption."
Amid the perpetual chaos of the American news cycle and the looming threat of war between nuclear-armed nations, commentators on social media met the possibly dire new research with a mixture of alarm and somber humor.
"We are all just living at the mercy of the supervolcano under Yellowstone," concluded film director and environmentalist Josh Fox. "Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?"
This story will help you stop worrying about Trump for a moment https://t.co/OQmVSrgyLr— Ben Wikler (@Ben Wikler)1507834937.0
Me: This week really blows Science: Boy do we have some news for you https://t.co/2MjMMwFHlb— Kate Aronoff (@Kate Aronoff)1507826936.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.