There are no more than two dozen supervolcanoes on Earth - volcanoes, the activity of which can reach 8 points on the VEI scale and lead to apocalyptic changes on the planet. They wake up extremely rarely - about once every 100,000 years. The explosions of supervolcanoes lead to a destructive aftereffect - due to the release of magma, a giant hole, a caldera, remains in the earth, and ash clouds hundreds of meters thick cover the planet and rise into the sky, blocking the Sun and causing a semblance of a nuclear winter.
As researchers from Cardiff University, who published material in the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, report, an eruption can be predicted when there is complete information about the behavior of a volcano in the past. However, this rule does not work for supervolcanoes, since their eruptions, known to science, occurred according to completely different scenarios. The lack of a single model that would help to understand the processes occurring in their depths makes it impossible to predict the future, reports the Daily Mail.
Researchers looked at evidence from 13 super-eruptions in the past 2 million years, including the most recent volcano that formed Lake Taupo in New Zealand more than 24,000 years ago. It turned out that each time the eruption took place in a new way. Some volcanoes woke up slowly and intensified over weeks or months, others exploded suddenly and powerfully. Some eruptions lasted for days or weeks, others for decades. For example, the volcano that formed Lake Toba 74,000 years ago in Sumatra erupted almost immediately. And the most recent eruption - the Oruanui of the Taupo volcano - began slowly and then continued for several months.
The two most prominent calderas on Earth are the Yellowstone Caldera and the Long Valley Caldera, both in the United States. They are the remains of supervolcanoes that last erupted 600,000 and 760,000 years ago, respectively. Over the past 16 million years, the Yellowstone supervolcano has woken up at least 10 times - an average of once every 1.5 million years. So it may be another 900,000 years before that happens again.
A recent study showed that this could happen earlier, after which NASA had a plan to drill a well and pump water there to cool the magma. However, according to scientists, this extremely expensive and long-term plan could have the opposite effect - to wake up a dormant volcano and cause it to erupt.