A new study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion unit has determined that the threat of a supervolcanic eruption to life on Earth may be more pressing than any interstellar collisions. An eruption of a supervolcano, like that found in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, could trigger a collapse of the global agricultural and economic systems and result in the deaths of potentially millions of people. Although NASA scientists can’t predict when such an event would occur, they have already begun preparing a preventative measure: drilling into the magma chamber of a supervolcano to cool it down.
Although the potential consequences of a supervolcano eruption would be devastating, earthlings should rest easy knowing that the chance of such an eruption taking place this year is roughly 1-in-730,000. Even then, there is a chance that it could be nothing more than a little lava flow. Nonetheless, NASA scientists are preparing to deal with the problem before it happens.
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Magma eruptions occur only when it is thoroughly melted by intense heat; cooling magma down by 35 percent would prevent a supervolcano from erupting. To do this, the scientists envision using a drill to puncture above the chamber, where hydrothermal fluids are pushed to the surface. Adding water in this highly pressurized environment would be sufficient to cool the magma.
To avoid fracturing the surrounding rock and potentially setting off an eruption, NASA scientists suggest drilling into the supervolcano from below. It is estimated that such a plan would cost around $3.5 billion, although governments would be encouraged to think of this as an investment: Excess heat could be captured and transformed into clean energy.
Lead image via Pixabay, others via Laineema/Flickr and Peter Hartree/Flickr
I think I saw this on the SyFy Channel the other day. Watch put for the magma tornados, radioactive thunderstorms, and lava sharks!
Right. Punching a hole in one of the earth's largest caldera to let off a little steam of undetermined size and pressure -- what could go wrong?
It's really amusing the number of commenters who've decided to pass their ultimate judgement on a topic they have no experience in based solely on a summary of a summary of a short interview. Here's the original interview in case you wanted just a little more info http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170817-nasas-ambitious-plan-to-save-earth-from-a-supervolcano?ocid=global_future_rss
About time these scientists actually try and save our planet and prevent destruction. Next is disease please, and thanks!
So basically they are considering fracking a super volcano. Have they lost their minds?
Why does NASA want to kill everyone on planet earth? This is the most insane thing th
Seriously? With 730,000 to 1 odds the Gov't wants to risk killing us all with a plan that has better that those odds of ending in disaster. Someone should tell them to get someone who really understands statistical analysis. In other words, if the cure has a better chance of killing us than the disease, LEAVE IT ALONE !!!
Yeah. Let's take water, inject it into an environment ten times hotter than its boiling point, and let it expand 1600 times its original volume, and keep it confined underground. This won't cause any pressure issues and unzip the caldera any faster than mother nature can do on her own. Thankful that the USGS has the volcanologists and not NASA.
Human caused climate change from the surface of the earth to the upper atmosphere, to the ocean depths is one thing. To suggest that NASA or any other organization could or should attempt to interfere with the natural processes of our planet to potentially benefit our contemporary population is another thing altogether and is asinine and quite frankly horrifying. We are here PRECISELY because of plate tectonics and its subsequent volcanic activity. Our existence is owed to 4.5 billion years of natural processes, and who are we to interrupt that progression. We, along with 99% of life on earth that have gone extinct, are are at the same mercy of our molten core, and we WILL join that procession of extinct species, at least on this planet. Our interference now could affect future species, all of which deserve their chance to participate in the wonder of natural selection that our amazing laboratory (Earth) offers, while it is still fit for habitation.
If you want to play god just remember the devil is in the details!
There is enough energy there to power all our needs for thousands of years. The keys are the abilities to store or transmit effectively.Its not easy to use Yellowstone energy in Europe or NY for instance. But there is so much energy there to inefficiently creat create an transportable energy source like a clean hydrocarbon using atmospheric CO2
I think NASA has shown/watched Armageddon a few too many times.
Geez...let's do it! What could go wrong?