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Earth Science

Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than First Thought 451

drewtheman writes "New studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. University of Utah research professor of geophysics Robert Smith led four separate studies that verify a plume of hot and molten rock at least 410 miles deep that rises at an angle from the northwest."
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Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than First Thought

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  • by jameskojiro ( 705701 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:04PM (#30445120) Journal

    Yellowstone has gone off in the past and it didn't kill off all the large land animals, sure it screwed up North America for a whiel and lowered global temps several degrees, but it isn't the end of the world.

  • by ZeroExistenZ ( 721849 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:04PM (#30445134)

    So is it even theoretically possible to, say, dig a big shaft into it to slowly release the pressure under controlled conditions over decades or centuries?

    Likely, if you forget about Murphy...

  • by assemblerex ( 1275164 ) * on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:04PM (#30445138)
    at the precipice of become spacefaring people. Mega volcano? Mega landslide in Hawaii? Defrosting Russian permafrost? Global warming? Comet? Meteor? Gamma ray burst? Solar flare?
    Pick one and we're screwed. Sadly all we care about it the latest trinket to amuse our monkey brains while we imagine we are safe from all danger. somehow. maybe.
  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:07PM (#30445166)

    Meh, doesn't have to kill off everything to doom the human race.

  • by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:13PM (#30445256)

    Several have suggested that we try to come up with a way to release pressure from the Super Volcano, but I can't see that helpful. The life of this planet depends upon this changes in the mantel and the crust, and trying to divert what happens in nature may cause larger problems for our population on this planet later. It amazes me that we think as a people that our lives on this planet are somehow more significant than other life forms. Yes we are evolved, and that would lead many to argue this point, but the reality is we are like ant to this planet. We've infested it with our population growths. The planet will do what the planet will do, and we're really just along for the ride.

    I'm not a volcano expert nor am I any renound scientist, I'm an average person looking at the possiblity of life as I know it ceasing to exist. I don't look forward to a massive kill-off of the many life-forms on this planet. I don't, but I do feel that by messing with nature we will cause more problems than if we don't. But hey, this is only my take on the situation described. Meh!

  • by Aeros ( 668253 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:15PM (#30445276)
    wouldn't the volcano blowing kinda ruin the park as well? im just sayin..
  • by FTWinston ( 1332785 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:22PM (#30445412) Homepage
    Well, to pick the most significant one from the OP's list, if there's a GRB that threatens Earth, I'd like to see the spaceship that's gonna take you far enough away to escape its effects.
  • by thisnamestoolong ( 1584383 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:30PM (#30445550)
    To be fair, most of the things you mentioned would not be extinction level events -- it would take quite a bit to fully extinguish humanity from this planet -- we have more knowledge and technology to help us survive than any other species in history. We can build underground bunkers powered by nuclear reactors and grow plants by the soft glow of UV lamps, for instance. For humans to become extinct, something will have to hit us really hard and really fast. I do agree with your main thesis though -- we need to get our asses into space while we still have the chance. In any of these cases, we would, at best lose hundreds to thousands of years of potential progress. If we had kept up the momentum we had in the 1960's, 2001 would have been a pretty accurate depiction of the year in question, methinks. It's a pity, really.
  • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:31PM (#30445574)

    Even if society totally collapsed, there would be enough information left over for people to rebuild eventually.

    The problem as I see it is that the Earth we've created isn't the Earth it was 100 years ago. Asssume for a moment that the population is reduced to 10% of what it is now. Would there be enough resources to keep all of our nuclear reactors, chemical plants, etc from leaking unprecidented amounts of poison into the environment. While the orignal volcano/virus/starvation/flood/PickYourCatastrophe probably wouldn't finish us off, perhaps the slow rotting of our own creations would.

  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:32PM (#30445592)

    I don't know if you've noticed, but we have managed to get off this rock. The problem is finding another rock that we can survive on. So far, even the most catastrophic disaster short of the sun blowing up will still leave the earth more likely to support humans than any other planet (or moon) we've discovered.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:54PM (#30446004) Homepage Journal

    You should stop getting your science facts from news outlets.
    It won't destroy the world, or even come close to killing a significant percentage of people.
    It might kill, maybe, 100 Million people with another 20 million as the results of disruption of service.
    And that's worse case, OMG I can't believe we were this unlucky scenario.

    Unless of course we are bombarded by magic neutrinos from the sun.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @12:56PM (#30446046)

    Doesn't it seem a little stupid to keep all this intelligence on one tiny, tiny planet?
    You've answered your own question.

  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:07PM (#30446226) Journal

    So I can mod you insightful!

    (Oh wait...)

  • by citab ( 1677284 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @01:47PM (#30447042)

    Then why aren't you posting the facts that prove it a hoax? Put up or STFU!

  • by Columcille ( 88542 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:21PM (#30448456) Homepage
    They invade us for territory. Their magma population has grown and they want land to spread. They don't care about resources, per se, but they sure want our land.
  • by jayme0227 ( 1558821 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:31PM (#30448596) Journal

    It amazes me that we think as a people that our lives on this planet are somehow more significant than other life forms.

    Then it would amaze you that my life is more important than yours, at least to me? I think most people operate under the belief that humans are more important than animals because, well, we evolved.

    Here's my list of most importance:
    Me, my (future)progeny, and my spouse
    My family and friends
    People closely sharing my culture, ideals and/or geographic area
    Human beings in general
    Animals (especially domesticated animals)

    Basically, I'm willing to sacrifice the well-being of any item on the list in favor of what is above it. While I try to expand my horizons, it comes down to this: I'm only as generous as my own well-being allows. I don't care one lick about feeding the kids in Africa if I don't have food in my own gut. And I especially don't care about deforestation if I have to worry about a bear wandering into my backyard and eating me.

    Now, I do believe myself to be a relatively enlightened person. I donate to charity, I help others when they need it, and I seek to make the world a better place for those around me. However, I only do so because I can afford it. As long as my needs are met, I have no problem worrying about others. When push comes to shove, however, it all goes back to that list.

    Seeing as you haven't offed yourself yet, I'd bet that it is the same for you. You only worry about our "infestation" on this globe because you can afford to watch the Matrix or read any number of books espousing the same philosophy. I'd be willing to bet that, with a gun against your head, you'd back down. It's just the way we've been programmed by millions of years of evolution.

  • It's like we got bored after 15 years in space and decided it wasn't worth the effort or something.

    It pretty much turned out that, with our current level of technology, it's often not worth the effort to put humans into space. From Sputnik to Apollo, the "space race" was never about science, it was about Cold War propaganda and missile technology.

    At the moment there are precious few reasons to lob a human into orbit to do science, much less to go through the trouble and expense to try to keep one alive for a trip to Luna or Mars. Cheaper and easier to send robotic probes.

    It's going to remain that way until some technological breakthroughs make it easier to put people into orbit and keep them alive up there -- maybe nanotech that enables a space elevator and the construction of habitats, maybe something completely unexpected. Or maybe nothing, and we stay here and focus on making the Earth a safe and pleasant place to live. Or maybe we blow it and die off.

  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:58PM (#30449654)

    Well if you mean the easily accessible resources that the government will let you get at, then yes... There is still plenty of easily accessible oil in places the government won't let us tap (ANWAR, West Coast, etc) and coal will likely be available in very large quantities that can't be used today because of environmental regulations, but in a post-apocalyptic anarchy period, would be burned like there's no tomorrow.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @05:09PM (#30449828)

    It amazes me that we think as a people that our lives on this planet are somehow more significant than other life forms.

    I'm not that concerned about "our lives on this planet". I'm concerned about MY life on this planet. In fact, I am VERY concerned about MY life on this planet. It is one of my greatest concerns, everything else being in a very far second. Most of the people I've talked with feel the same way.

    We all do agree, though, that your selflessness is very touching.

  • by snooo53 ( 663796 ) * on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @06:08PM (#30450768) Journal

    Of course one problem is that all of the easily obtainable resources will have already been strip mined by us, so that by the time something crawls back out of the muck it will be considerably harder to advance past the club and stick phase.

    Assuming a civilization ending destruction occurs, that doesn't necessarily mean all the resources are gone. Instead future generations will be processing garbage from landfills, electronic waste, decrepit buildings, seawater and the like. If anything it seems like they will have a head start with all sorts of processed metal prevalent in cities. Cars, wires, pipes, cans, coins, etc..

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban