A massive super-eruption would have to power to reduce Earth to a pre-civilised state, wiping out an entire continent and plaguing others with the consequences for years to come.
And new findings suggest the next such explosion could be due much sooner than previously thought.
Experts once predicted super-eruptions come around once every 45,000-714,000 years.
However new findings suggest they could happen as frequently as once every 5,200 years while the most likely time between super-eruptions is now thought to be around 17,000 years.
Geologicial records examined by academics at the University of Bristol revealed the most recent super-eruptions happened between 20,000-30,000 years ago.
They looked at a huge database of eruptions as they conducted their research.
Statistical analysis showed that, although eruptions measuring around 100 million metric tonnes are less frequent than earlier research suggested, super-eruptions of 1,000 gigatonnes are much more frequent.
Jonathan Rougier, professor of statistical science at the university, said: “According to geological records, the two most recent super-eruptions were between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.
“On balance, we have been slightly lucky not to experience any super-eruptions since then.
“It is important to appreciate that the absence of super-eruptions in the last 20,000 years does not imply that one is overdue.
“What we can say is that volcanoes are more threatening to our civilisation than previously thought.
“The technology and techniques used to determine the average time between super-eruptions can also be used to change the approach of seismologists looking at earthquakes.”
There have been thousands of huge volcanic eruptions in human history, however we have never seen a super-eruption of the kind covered in the research.
These gargantuan explosions could devastate the planet, producing enough volcanic ash to cover an entire continent and causing weather chaos, as they could change weather patterns for decades to follow.
According to the new best estimate for calculating when a super-eruption will happen, Earth passed its due date between 3,000-13,000 years ago.
Super-volcanoes like Yellowstone are constantly showing signs of potential eruption, with evidence showing it could wreak havoc in the near future.
While the island in the middle of Lake Toba, Indonesia, is thought to be a sign the Earth is bulging due to magma pressure below the surface.
This is the site of the largest ever super-eruption according to researchers – and it is becoming increasingly active.