SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CBS Las Vegas) — A super volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park has the potential to cause worldwide climate damage if and when it erupts.
Speaking to BBC Radio, Dr. James Farrell of the University of Utah said that an eruption from this super volcano would be 2,000 times the size of the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980.
“We know there’s been these really large volcanic eruptions in the past and what we’re seeing now matches that,” Farrell said. “We see that there is indeed a large magma reservoir and that there is the potential for large volcanic eruptions in the future, although that would be in the far future.”
A recent scientific study indicates that the underground volcano is nearly 2.5 times bigger than originally thought, stretching more than 55 miles beneath the surface.
“The real consequence of this new discovery is that what we see using these geophysical methods really matches what we see in the geologic past,” Farrell told BBC Radio.
The last eruption from the Yellowstone super volcano took place 640,000 years ago. Researchers told BBC News that ash was sent across North America following the eruption.
“These are really big volcanic eruptions and it would definitely be a global event. It would not only affect the U.S. but it would affect the world,” Farrell stated. “All this material that is shot up in the atmosphere would eventually circle the earth and would affect the climate throughout the world.”
Farrell noted, however, that an eruption is not remotely imminent.
“We believe that if there was going to be an eruption we would have advanced warning magma was moving beneath the surface,” Farrell said.
The scientists findings about the size of the super volcano will be presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting beginning Thursday in San Francisco.