NASA Scientist Presents An Unusual Plan To Save The Earth From Yellowstone Supervolcano

Posted: Aug 27 2017, 5:17am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Scientist Presents an Unusual Plan to Save the Earth from Yellowstone Supervolcano
Credit: MARK RALSTON

Researchers believe that the Yellowstone super volcano is a bigger threat to life on Earth than any asteroid or comet

Yellowstone is known for its geysers, hotspots and stunning wildlife and these features attract thousands of tourists every year. But the national park also contains a deadly supervolcano that has a long history of volcanic eruptions.

In recent weeks, Yellowstone is struck by hundreds of earthquakes, leading to fears that the supervolcano could blow anytime and put the lives of people at risk..

Though Yellowstone supernova Caldera last erupted 600,000 years ago and shows no signs of potential eruption, the increased numbers of earthquakes around points to the active state of supervolcano. Now, NASA scientists have developed an ambitious plan to counter the looming threat of the catastrophic eruption from the Yellowstone suerpvolcano.

If erupts, the supervolcano will cause more devastation on Earth than a crashing asteroid. Such eruption could produce so much magma that the resulting clouds of ash will block the sunlight for years afterwards and make Earth an extremely cold place.

So, NASA researchers want to drill into the magma chamber and cool down volcano to avert eruption. If they could drill up to 10km down into the supervolcano, and release water at high pressure, the circulating water would slowly day by day extract heat from the volcano and won’t allow it to erupt. This ambitious plan could cost $3.5 billion.

“If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.” Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology told BBC.

It would be less costly and easier if they drill in supervolcano from the lower sides. Yellowstone supervolcano is like a gigantic heat generator - equivalent to six industrial power plants.

“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” said Wilcox. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh.

“And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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