Saturday, February 8, 2020

A supervolcano in Utah? It's 30 times larger than Yellowstone

[USA Today] Yellowstone's famous caldera, which last went off more than 640,000 years ago, can lay claim as North America's most well-known supervolcano.
But it isn't the continent's largest — a more ancient one found near the small southwestern Utah town of Enterprise, was about 30 times bigger.
Aspects of the geological landscape that Southern Utah is famous for – Pine Mountain, Veyo volcano and lava flows – come from volcanic activity in the area, all stemming from the supervolcano "Wah Wah Springs."
Yellowstone's famous caldera, which last went off more than 640,000 years ago, can lay claim as North America's most well-known supervolcano.
But it isn't the continent's largest — a more ancient one found near the small southwestern Utah town of Enterprise, was about 30 times bigger.
Aspects of the geological landscape that Southern Utah is famous for – Pine Mountain, Veyo volcano and lava flows – come from volcanic activity in the area, all stemming from the supervolcano "Wah Wah Springs."
Yellowstone still has frequent volcanic activity, and some people think we’re overdue for another big one (which if you’re talking in the span of thousands of years, maybe), according to local scientist Ron Smith.
“Yellowstone has gotten a lot of publicity because of the severity of a supervolcano and the effect it would have on the earth," Smith, a former university professor in California and now SunRiver resident, said at a lecture at Dixie State University on Monday. "We cannot say that Yellowstone is overdue ... it is probably going to blow again but it could well be 500,000 years from now or a week from Tuesday."
According to the United States Geological Survey, the probability of another supervolcanic event in Yellowstone in the next few thousand years is "exceedingly low."
Wah Wah Springs released 30 times more ash and debris than the infamous Yellowstone explosion though, Smith said. Compared to more recent volcanic events, it was 5,000 times larger than the eruption at Mount St. Helen's in 1980.