When one hears the term “supervolcanoes” there are a variety of mental pictures that might enter the brain. One could be straight out of the Sci-Fi channel, complete with a molten head and lava limbs. Maybe it’s a scene from the 1997 classic movie, Volcano, when a molten mass springs up in Los Angeles and terrorizes the city.
Those images are sensational, but inaccurate when looking into the supervolcano. In actuality, a supervolcano has its origins somewhere only a trained scientific eye would know where to look. They are located in the core of the earth, which is a good thing for all on this planet.
What some may not know is that these secretive supervolcanoes occasionally do leave their imprint above the ground. According to a Nature World News report, there are 20 of these giants on the Earth right now, with only one located in the United States. That one supervolcano in America is located in Wyoming, home of Yellowstone Park.
If the name sounds a bit terrifying, that could be because these are not ordinary, run of the mill volcanoes. While Pompeii and Mount St. Helens looked like doomsday to most humans, a supervolcano would destroy things on a much broader scale. Consider some of the scary facts which have been discovered about these volcanoes.
Their power is unlike anything the Earth has seen since records were created. Mount St. Helens poured copious amounts of ash and molten lava in its wake, but it would be dwarfed by what a supervolcano would do. Their magma chambers can sometimes be 60 miles wide, and several miles thick. Think about that for a moment. Under the earth, there are pockets of lava 60 miles wide that could explode at any minute.
Scientists have wondered for some time what triggers these gigantic supervolcano eruptions. It was just recently that the trigger has been discovered. It might surprise some folks to know that it is not a natural disaster, like an earthquake, that gives rise to these supervolcanoes.
Supervolcanoes do not erupt, but rather explode below the Earth’s surface in the crust. The difference is that its magma tears a hole in the crust of the Earth, causing this molten goo to rise to the surface, much like a balloon would do if forced under water.
Sounds like something out of science fiction, but they are totally real. When they do unleash their power, the earth usually learns it when calderas form. A caldera is a giant crater, which one can see on the surface of the land. Indonesia is home to some of these supervolcano made holes. The next obvious question would be, if they are so powerful, how is it that the human race still around?
Luckily, supervolcanoes are not frequent visitors to the surface of the Earth. In fact, scientists estimate that they occur about every 100,000 years or so. That means it is impossible to know when another one could be coming as man made records have not been around that long.
That is good news for the human race because chances are that millions would not live to tell the tale if one occurred. A normal volcano, such as Mount St. Helens, ejected around 1 cubic kilometer of matter from its fiery base. Scientists believe that these supervolcanoes could contain as much as 35,000 cubic kilometers of magma in their holding cells. When that gets unleashed on the planet, it could be the doomsday scenario that would make an Armageddon meteor look like a picnic!