Scientists ‘DON’T KNOW’ size of ‘tremendous’ Yellowstone eruption | Science | News

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Fears are growing a huge eruption is due from Yellowstone, 630,000 years after the last blast sent debris flying hundreds of miles across America.

A study by a team of scientists from Bristol University found these deadly eruptions may happen every 17,000 years or so.

This means our next super-eruptions could be overdue after the two most recent super-eruptions to rock Earth happened somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.

Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, has now admitted they do not know how large an eruption could be about to take place.

He said: “We don’t know whether there’s enough magma beneath the surface to have a super eruption.”

Explaining exactly how large eruptions are measured he continued: “Super volcanos, or super eruptions, are these eruptions that are on the eruption intensity scale, there’s something called the volcano explosivity index (VEI) and eruptions that have a VEI of eight are considered super eruptions.

“And that’s pretty massive, most eruptions that we see would be VEI three, four. Big ones are five and then once a century or so there’s a six, so a VEI eight is really, really tremendous.”

The confession from Mr Poland that experts are unsure how big an eruption from the volcano would be is unlikely to put people living in the US at ease.

Denver City is the biggest city at direct risk of a major blast, located around 500 miles to the south-east of the volcano.

However, Salt Lake, Cheyenne, Rapid City, Billings and Boise would all also potentially be at risk.

Denver is home 600,000 people with as many as two million others living in the metro area surrounding Colorado’s capital.

Salt Lake City, located one state west in Utah, could see as much as three feet of ash could fall, smothering the city and blotting out the sun if a VEI eight erupted.

More than 180,000 people live in the city with more than one million inhabiting the surround metro area.

Doctor Harley Benz of the US Geological Survey said huge eruptions in the past had left nothing in its wake.

He said: “We’re talking about a huge area that was covered in tens of feet of ash, in a very large area out to 100 miles from the centre.”

However Mr Poland has said he hopes no such event takes place.

He said: “The evidence suggests that a lot of the magma reservoir is actually solid, and about 50 percent of it is molten, so there may not be enough down there to have a super eruption.”

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