Researchers studying at Yellowstone National Park believe a supervolcano resting beneath the popular Wyoming destination could erupt sooner rather than later - and the results could be devastating.
Perhaps ominously, according the ZME Science website, the previous eruption occurred in about the same timeframe before that - 1.3 million years ago - meaning that the system might be ready for another explosion.
Scientists from Arizona State University who analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption about 630,000 years ago found the supervolcano woke up after fresh magma flowed into the caldera, a 40-mile-wide bowl, National Geographic reported.
And the eruption may be a doozy - that spells doomsday.
A Yellowstone eruption would be absolutely devastating, covering half the Earth in an ash cloud that could trigger a nuclear winter.
Supervolcanoes - capable of spewing 2,500 times more material than Mount St. Helens did in 1980 - such as the one under Yellowstone are far more powerful than traditional volcanoes.
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The Arizona State study follows research in 2013 that showed the magma reservoir that feeds the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park may be about 2½ times bigger than originally believed.
Much like reading a set of tree rings, Shamloo and her team were able to record temperature and composition changes by analyzing crystals found beneath the earth's surface.
The swelling reservoir responsible for the uplift was too deep to create fears of imminent doom, Smith said.
The Yellowstone supervolcano could easily change life on our planet for centuries. Decades instead of millenniums, or, scientists say, a geological blink of the eye. The information suggests an eruption is possible in just a matter of decades.
"It's shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption", study co-author Hannah Shamloo told the New York Times.
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