« Home | Mobile Phone Fraud » | Aviation Photos 2 » | noitulovE » | Aviation Photos 1 » | I'm rich! » | This tiny place we call home » | Humming Along » | Life's A Beach 2 » | Hassey 30/5.6 Xpan Lens For Sale! » | I'm a llama » 

Thursday, February 16, 2006 

Of Geysers and Calderas

I'm in the midst of reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The chapter discussing geology and volcanic activity was particularly interesting.

Have you ever wondered why Yellowstone National Park has so many active geysers and hot springs? That's because it's sitting on an enormous bed of molten rock about 200km deep and 72km across, roughly the same dimensions of the park itself. A supervolcano if you will. Apparently this has been known for a while but it wasn't till the 1960s when scientists began to wonder where the valcano's caldera was. Volcanoes possess two forms of caldera, the readily identifiable conical peak of Mt. Fuji is one, and the other lesser known type formed by a massive explosive rupture. Yellowstone is of the latter type.

A NASA experiment with high altitude photography of the park finally yielded some clues as to where the caldera might be. The scientists, to their horror, discovered the reason why they had been unable to find it. The park was in fact the Yellowstone caldera, nearly all 9000 square kilometers of it. The crater was found to be almost 65km wide!

Measurements have concluded that Yellowstone blows once every 600,000 years or so. The last known eruption was 630,000 years ago and it appears that the supervolcano is due for another big spurt anytime. Considering the last eruption was thought to be 1,000 times the strength of the somewhat recent eruption of Mount St Helens, imagine what an eruption in this present day would do to the Earth and its inhabitants.

Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone National Park
by Ron Niebrugge

I never knew all this when I was at Yellowstone several years ago. It's hard to imagine that beneath its idyllic surroundings lies a time bomb ready to annihilate humankind. It's a very sobering thought and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it after reading the chapter in the book several weeks back.

The book is a fascinating and fun read even if you don't have a yearning for the sciences. If anyone wants to borrow my copy after I'm done with it, drop me an email.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

May this be
your time to laugh,
embrace & receive
personal peace,
Dr. Howdy

I became rather anxious after watching a particular episode of National Geographic or something in which scientists were predicting that Earth would be hit by a huge meteorite (similar to what killed the dinosaurs) soon.

Sobering yes, but well, not like there's anything I can do about it.

Post a Comment

About me

  • I'm Mr Sanguine
  • From Singapore, Singapore
My profile

My ipod top weekly plays

mrsanguine's Last.fm Weekly Artists Chart

Subscribe in Bloglines
Subscribe in FeedLounge