'High threat' supervolcano could bring about an ice age when it erupts

A long-quiet yet massive super volcano, dubbed the "Long Valley Caldera," has the potential to unleash a fiery hell across the planet, and the magma-filled mountain has a history of doing so.

Super volcano is the term used to describe volcanoes that have gradually over time built up immense amounts of magma and could wreak havoc if ejected onto the planet's surface.

And in the heart of Long Valley, California, lies just that.

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Approximately 760,000 years ago, this super volcano in particular had a massive eruption on an apocalyptic scale that blanketed the United States region in molten lava and ash.

And if such were to occur again, molten rock would not only incinerate the Earth for thousands of miles, but the toxic ash spewing from the opening of the crust would temporarily block out the rays of the sun, which scientists say would cause temperatures to fall to levels not seen since the Ice Age.

Chances of the super volcano erupting again, however, are thought to be unlikely, a geophysicist told the Daily Star Online.

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"Very large eruptions are exceedingly rare on human timescales," David Shelly, research geophysicist for US Geological Survey, said to reporters. "Smaller eruptions are more frequent and can have big impacts in the local area, but limited consequences on a larger scale.

However, Shelly says that the possibility of an eruption looming "should not be ignored," as humans could be left with as little as "months" to prepare for such an episode.

"We would just hope that we could get people out of the area within a few hundred kilometers of the eruption," he continued.

Though Shelly says that "a catastrophic eruption at Long Valley is a long shot," he says "volcanic hazards shouldn't be ignored" in California.

"Preparations are similar to those that should be taken for earthquakes or any other potential disaster," he added.