Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Big Bangs: 'Stirring' Secrets Of Deadly Supervolcanoes Uncovered

Date:
May 30, 2008
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers have simulated in the lab the process that can turn ordinary volcanic eruptions into so-called "supervolcanoes." Supervolcanoes are orders of magnitude greater than any volcanic eruption in historic times. They are capable of causing long-lasting change to weather, threatening the extinction of species, and covering huge areas with lava and ash.

Supervolcanoes are orders of magnitude greater than any volcanic eruption in historic times. They are capable of causing long-lasting change to weather, threatening the extinction of species, and covering huge areas with lava and ash.
Credit: iStockphoto/Koch Valιrie

Researchers from McGill University and the University of British Columbia (UBC) have simulated in the lab the process that can turn ordinary volcanic eruptions into so-called “supervolcanoes,” with potentially devastating worldwide impact.

The study was conducted by Dr. Ben Kennedy and and Dr. Mark Jellinek of UBC’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, and Dr. John Stix, chair of McGill University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Their results were published May 25 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Supervolcanoes are orders of magnitude greater than any volcanic eruption in historic times. They are capable of causing long-lasting change to weather, threatening the extinction of species, and covering huge areas with lava and ash.

Using volcanic models made of plexiglass filled with corn syrup, the researchers simulated how magma in a volcano’s magma chamber might behave if the roof of the chamber caved in during an eruption.

“The magma was being stirred by the roof falling into the magma chamber,” Stix explained. “This causes lots of complicated flow effects that are unique to a supervolcano eruption.”

“There is currently no way to predict a supervolcano eruption,” said Kennedy, a post-doctoral fellow at UBC. “But this new information explains for the first time what happens inside a magma chamber as the roof caves in, and provides insights that could be useful when making hazard maps of such an eruption.”

The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 – the only known supervolcano eruption in modern history – was 10 times more powerful than Krakatoa and more than 100 times more powerful than Vesuvius or Mount St. Helens. It caused more than 100,000 deaths in Indonesia alone, and blew a column of ash about 70 kilometres into the atmosphere. The resulting disruptions of the planet’s climate led 1816 to be christened “the year without summer.”

“And this was a small supervolcano,” said Stix. “A really big one could create the equivalent of a global nuclear winter. There would be devastation for many hundreds of kilometres near the eruption and there would be would be global crop failures because of the ash falling from the sky, and even more important, because of the rapid cooling of the climate.”

There are potential supervolcano sites all over the world, most famously under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the setting of the 2005 BBC/Discovery Channel docudrama Supervolcano, which imagined an almost-total collapse of the world economy following an eruption.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Big Bangs: 'Stirring' Secrets Of Deadly Supervolcanoes Uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529131034.htm>.
McGill University. (2008, May 30). Big Bangs: 'Stirring' Secrets Of Deadly Supervolcanoes Uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529131034.htm
McGill University. "Big Bangs: 'Stirring' Secrets Of Deadly Supervolcanoes Uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529131034.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A U.S. team found nearly 4,000 species in a subglacial lake that hasn't seen sunlight in millennia, showing life can thrive even under the ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins