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Researchers: Global Risk of Supervolcano Eruption Greater Than Previously Though 325

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-boom dept.
rbrandis writes "The eruption of a 'supervolcano' hundreds of times more powerful than conventional volcanoes – with the potential to wipe out civilization as we know it – is more likely than previously thought, a study has found. An analysis of the molten rock within the dormant supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States has revealed that an eruption is possible without any external trigger, scientists said."
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Researchers: Global Risk of Supervolcano Eruption Greater Than Previously Though

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday January 06, 2014 @04:31PM (#45881261) Homepage Journal

    NSA is on the east coast, Yellowbone will just kill the west coast, and starve the rest of the world a little.

  • Re:Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday January 06, 2014 @05:08PM (#45881723)

    Okay, on the chance that you're not joking:

    You think that Mars is going to be a better environment than a post-volcanic eruption earth? Post-eruption earth would still have oxygen, survivable air-pressure, water, and soil (though you may have to dig for it). We may have to retreat underground for a few years--but still way more survivable than the barren, cold iron desert of Mars ever will be (if there were a way to even get there).

  • by danlip (737336) on Monday January 06, 2014 @05:19PM (#45881833)

    It would cost a lot more than the Apollo project to get a permanent self-sufficient base on the moon or mars, probably hundreds of times more, maybe thousands, especially is it has to be truly self-sufficient (no external supplies ever, no margin for error).

    And a super-volcano is not going to wipe out the human race. Maybe 99% (mostly via starvation) but that still leaves millions. Same for a comet/asteroid strike, nuclear war, etc. (a super-virus might do it). As far as knowledge preservation, a lot could be done regarding that on Earth.

  • by kellymcdonald78 (2654789) on Monday January 06, 2014 @05:26PM (#45881899)
    I don't think you realize the scale of the energy involved. When St. Helen's blew, it released ~24MT of energy and ~1 cubic km of ash. The last eruption of the Yellowstone caldaera (Lava Creek 640,000 years ago) released more than 1000 cubic km of ash. You're looking at having to dissapate 1000's of MT of energy somehow. Plus, one of the typical triggers to one of these eruptions is a smaller eruption or earthquake that drops the pressure of the magma chamber to the point where dissolved gases come out of solution, then it's like opening a bottle of soda that's been shaken.
  • by edibobb (113989) on Monday January 06, 2014 @05:27PM (#45881907) Homepage
    "Dr Perrillat said there are no known supervolcanoes that are in danger of erupting in the foreseeable future."
    Tricked again! The hysterical headline is exaggerated, and society as we know it survives another day.
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday January 06, 2014 @05:43PM (#45882073)

    It's still only happening about every 100,000 years. Will it eventually happen? Yes. Can we do anything about it? Nope. This planet is still the dog and we are still the fleas.

    Depends what you mean by "do anything about it" - if by "do anything" you mean "preserve the human race", then we could easily have a permanent and self-sufficient base on the moon within a few decades if we dedicated half of our military budget to it, and a base on Mars a few decades beyond that. The entire Apollo project "only" cost around $170 billion in 2005 dollars -- the USA Military Budget is around $700B annually.

    Or we could just do nothing, as humanity survived the last Yellowstone eruption just fine (or we wouldn't be around today). And they managed that without any of our modern technology or scientific knowledge. A base on the moon or Mars is definitely in the long-term survival plans for humanity, but we don't need one to survive a once-in-a-million year event like a supervolcano eruption, it's the once-in-a-hundred million events like asteroid collisions (or eventually the sun expanding) we need to worry about.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Monday January 06, 2014 @06:29PM (#45882481)
    You seem to be forgetting one important factor, those armed groups that will roam taking what they want, shooting people pretty much for something as little as a single meal or bottle of water.
  • Re:Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swb (14022) on Monday January 06, 2014 @06:37PM (#45882541)

    All these threats make me wonder if instead of exploring Mars if maybe we wouldn't be better figuring out how to build long-term survival habitats underground or on the sea floor (or both).

  • by EvilSS (557649) on Monday January 06, 2014 @09:14PM (#45883483)
    So... the flyover states that produce our food would be wiped out, but NYC, DC, and LA would be spared. Great.
  • Re:Ok (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ediron2 (246908) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @02:17AM (#45885199) Journal

    False dichotomy. Do both. Plus anything else prudent in the long-term.

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".