Super-eruptions May Have Surprisingly Short Fuses
Enormous volcanic eruptions with potential to end civilizations may have surprisingly short fuses, researchers have discovered. These eruptions are known as super-eruptions because they are more than 100 times the size of ordinary volcanic eruptions like Mount St. Helens. They spew out tremendous flows of super-heated gas, ash and rock capable of blanketing entire continents and inject enough particulate into the stratosphere to throw the global climate into decade-long volcanic winters. Geologists generally believe that a super-eruption is produced by a giant pool of magma that forms a couple of miles below the surface and then simmers for 100,000 to 200,000 years before erupting. But a new study suggests that once they form, these giant magma bodies may only exist for a few thousand years, perhaps only a few hundred years, before erupting.
Image credit: NASA/JPL