Supervolcanoes more unpredictable than previously thought
Supervolcanoes are scary to begin with, but now, new research has revealed what causes them to erupt - and apparently it doesn't take much.
It's being described as magma buoyancy, which can actually make them less predictable and more frequent than previously thought.
Two teams of geologists conducted separate studies.
According to Nature Geoscience, one tested a model supervolcano to see what could cause an explosion, while another conducted more than 1 million computer simulated eruptions. They both came up with similar conclusions: that the magma in these supervolcanoes has a lighter density and a different pressure than its surrounding rocks, so this causes a buoyancy effect.
'The effect is like the extra buoyancy of a football when it is filled with air underwater, which forces it to the surface because of the denser water around it.,' RT quotes one of the researchers. 'If the volume of magma is big enough, it should come to the surface and explode like a champagne bottle being uncorked.'
According to the US Geological Survey, the last supervolcanic eruption occurred about 74,000 years ago in Indonesia. That explosion is estimated to have left layers of ashes as thick as 2,000 feet.
Right now, there are less than ten supervolcanoes around the world. While scientists have said this is something we'll eventually have to deal with, it is possible to measure the pressure of a volcano to predict its next eruption.
At least there's that?