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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive
The hot molten rock beneath Yellowstone National Park is 2.5 times larger than previously estimated, meaning the park's supervolcano has the potential to erupt with a force about 2,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens, according to a new study.Fifty-five miles you say? Outstanding.
By measuring seismic waves from earthquakes, scientists were able to map the magma chamber underneath the Yellowstone caldera as 55 miles long, lead author Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah said Monday.
[Another eruption] would spew large amounts of volcanic material in the atmosphere, where it would circle the earth, he said.So this is kind of like a pop quiz, except everybody dies. Fantastic.
"It would be a global event," Farrell said. "There would be a lot of destruction and a lot of impacts around the globe."
The last Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstone have warned the caldera is overdue to erupt.
Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn't enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption. "We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don't know when," he said.