A Volcanic Eruption Is Coming For New England As Rising Magma Takes Geophysicists By Surprise

Monday, 25 June 2018 - 12:41PM
Earth
Monday, 25 June 2018 - 12:41PM
A Volcanic Eruption Is Coming For New England As Rising Magma Takes Geophysicists By Surprise
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Composite Image From Public Domain/Unsplash
Scientists and disaster enthusiasts have been fixated on the Yellowstone supervolcano for years now, but a new danger may be rising up beneath New England: a nearly 250-mile wide mass of molten rock sitting underneath Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts has been spotted by geoscientists combing through years of data, and it's steadily working its way toward the surface.

Estimated to be hundreds of degrees hotter than the surrounding material, this blob was the last thing geologists to find in the area—according to Vadim Levin, a geophysicist from Rutgers University: "The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England...[W]e did not expect to find abrupt changes in physical properties beneath this region, and the likely explanation points to a much more dynamic regime underneath this old, geologically quiet area."

Before sounding the alarm to evacuate New England, it's important to consider that this area of rising molten rock 1) is much smaller and less dangerous than the Yellowstone supervolcano and 2) won't reach the surface for a long, long time. According to Levin: "It 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."

Right now, it's troubling enough that a part of the planet that was long thought to be stable and relatively unchanging has turned out to be the potential ground zero for a future eruption. Even the eruption of Washington State's Mt. St. Helens, which was positively tiny on the grander scale of volcanoes, caused widespread destruction and created an ash cloud that stretched across the globe. Whenever this mass of rock finally breaks the surface, we hope humans have successfully colonized a few planets by then.

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