Is a Volcano Forming Under New England? Rising Magma Discovery Provokes Concern

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - 11:15AM
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 - 11:15AM
Is a Volcano Forming Under New England? Rising Magma Discovery Provokes Concern
Image credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons
A research team comprised of scholars from Rutgers University and Yale has discovered some pretty shocking news for people who live in parts of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Gathering seismic wave data from the EarthScope program of the National Science Foundation, geophysicist Vadim Levin and his team found that there is a mass of magma rising from beneath the ground with the potential to form erupting volcanoes.

That may sound absolutely terrifying if you've seen natural disaster films like Geostorm or Dante's Peak, but the experts say that there is no need to panic yet.

"The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon," Levin explained, "and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England...It is not Yellowstone [National Park]-like, but it's a distant relative in the sense that something relatively small—no more than a couple hundred miles across—is happening."

He added that the discovery of the magma challenges what Introduction to Geology textbooks say about "how the continents on which we live behave."

It is possible that there is magma beneath other regions in the United States, but Levin's study used the available data and focused on New England because of previously documentation of a region in the Earth's mantle that was hundreds of degrees warmer than its surrounding areas.

"We did not expect to find abrupt changes in physical properties beneath this region," the geophysicist and professor said, "and the likely explanation points to a much more dynamic regime underneath this old, geologically quiet area."

As for the threat the magma poses to unsuspecting New Englanders?

Levin said that the magma "will likely take millions of years for the upwelling to get where it's going...The next step is to try to understand how exactly it's happening."
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