You Can Outrun A Supervolcano

Posted: Mar 7 2016, 2:28pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

You Can Outrun a Supervolcano
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  • Ancient volcano eruptions were slow enough to outrun!

New study suggests volcanoes 18.8 million years ago were slow and not fast like jets some experts suggest.

A new study was carried out on super volcanoes around Western United States. The study explored what may happen when one colossal volcano exploded. The study suggests ancient volcano eruptions were slow moving.

The pyroclastic flows took the form of slow, dense currents. The eruptions were not fast-moving jets as some experts previously thought. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications today.

The research was mainly carried out on the Silver Creek caldera, at the intersection of California, Nevada and Arizona. When the Silver Creek erupted 18.8 million years ago, it flooded parts of all three states, according to LiveScience.

The flow was river-like currents of hot ash and gas called pyroclastic flows. The volcanic material travelled for huge distances, some even more than 100 miles.

The research combined recent laboratory experiments with field data. The new and vintage data were combined to examine eruptions. The field data was studied even back from the 1980’s.

Some of the data was also recorded in colorful Kodachrome slides. The data shows material emanating from the Silver Creek caldera likely travelled at modest speeds. The ash and gas travelled at speeds as slow as 10 to 45 miles per hour.

Olivier Roche is a co-author of the study and conducted it at the Blaise Pascal University in France. According to Roche, majority believes for pyroclastic flow to go extreme distances they had a very high speed. Roche stated the belief is not consistent with their results.

Another author of the study is David C. Buesch at the United States Geological Survey. Similarly Greg A. Valentine at the University at Buffalo also took part.

According to Valentine, research on pyroclastic flows is important as it helps prepare for disasters. Understanding pyroclastic flows can help forecast the behavior of these flows when a volcano erupts.

The speed of the flows will determine the time left to get out of the way. It is truly only safe to evacuate before a volcanic flow starts.

In his statement Valentine even revealed while he would never suggest out running a volcano some people could. The flows of the ancient volcanic eruptions were slow enough to outrun.

There have always been two competing theories about how pyroclastic flows covering distances. One theory suggests fast moving and turbulent sandstorms.

While the other suggested the flow is dense and fluid-like, with pressurized gas between ash particles. The current study supports the latter theory model.

Some of the data Valentine provided for the study features included photographs and notes. The data shows the size, type and location of rocks that were lifted off the ground.

The rocks moved short distances by pyroclastic flows during the ancient eruption. Roche also came up with a model to figure out how fast these dense flows may have been through experiments.

Roche found faster flows were able to lift and move heavier beads of rocks. There was a relationship between the velocity of a flow and the weight of the bead.

The team predicted the ancient pyroclastic flows from the super volcano had travelled at a speed of about 5 to 20 meters per second. Valentine states it is highly unlikely the flow was faster since the larger rocks on the landscape remained undisturbed.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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