Supervolcano under Yellowstone could erupt sooner than thought, scientists say

Yellowstone supervolcano

It's true that researchers have determined they'll have less warning than previously thought the next time the supervolcano erupts.

The latest revelation comes after a 2013 study found the magma reservoir that feeds the supervolcano was almost triple the size of previous estimates. It's also news because, as the Times notes, decades are but "a blink of an eye, geologically speaking". A variety of sensors and satellites are always looking for changes, and right now, the supervolcano does not seem to pose a threat.

This is the first indication that "the conditions that lead to supereruptions might emerge within a human lifetime", which one researcher describes as "shocking", per the Times.

Today, Yellowstone National Park owes much of its rich geologic beauty to its violent past.

Features of the park, such as the Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring that attract visitors from around the world, are signs of a huge magma reservoir rumbling below.

Some 630,000 years ago, a massive eruption rocked the region, spewing the rock and ash that created the Yellowstone caldera, a 40-mile-wide bowl that forms most of the park.

According to The Times, Shamloo later analyzed crystals from the team's dig that recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano - much like a set of tree rings.

Given that eruptions of supervolcanoes buried on our planet-and there are several-are thought to occur every 100,000 years or so, however, the likelihood of such an event during your lifetime is small, reports the New York Times.

"It's an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high", Bob Smith, a Yellowstone expert at the University of Utah, told National Geographic at the time.

But nearly everyone who studies Yellowstone's slumbering supervolcano says that right now, we have no way of knowing when the next big blast will happen.

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