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Scientists Investigate Inflating, Potentially 'Super', Volcano


"It's one of the fastest uplifting volcanic areas on Earth."

You may have heard about the huge underground volcano that's reportedly rising at a rapid rate, relatively speaking, in Yellowstone National Park. Well, there's another nearly 20,000-foot-high volcano in Bolivia that's also rising -- and before now, scientists thought it was dead.

Uturuncu is surrounded by super volcanoes, which Our Amazing Planet reports, are not just a classification of size but of because of how much they spew:

[...] they typically spew out 1,000 times more material, in sheer volume, than a volcano like Mount St. Helens. Modern human civilization has never witnessed such an event. The planet's most recent supervolcanic eruption happened about 74,000 years ago in Indonesia.

As of right now, Uturuncu is in the same classification as Mount St. Helens, but, according to Our Amazing Planet, with its rise of one to two centimeters each year for the past two decades, scientists are wondering if it could be the next supervolcano. Researchers are figuring out what exactly is happening now and what it means for the future:

"I call this 'volcano forensics,' because we're using so many different techniques to understand this phenomenon," said Oregon State University professor Shan de Silva, a volcanologist on the research team. [...]

"It's one of the fastest uplifting volcanic areas on Earth," de Silva told OurAmazingPlanet."What we're trying to do is understand why there is this rapid inflation, and from there we'll try to understand what it's going to lead to."

Although the researchers do not think this, or Yellowstone for that matter, will erupt any time soon, Uturuncu's magma chamber is growing 10 times faster than other volcano systems of similar size. What de Silva says is important to find out is how long the volcano has been building up its magma stores, as other volcanoes in the area seem to erupt every 300,000 years.

Since they only have 20 years of data for the volcano, scientists are looking at other factors, such as slant in lake bottoms surrounding the volcano and GPS data. The Geophysical Institute Quarterly publication reported that scientists are also "listening" to the volcanic activity through seismic technology and hope to learn more about how to predict super eruptions.

The publication reported researcher Mike West as saying, "They are kinds of eruptions that when they happen, ‘massive’ doesn’t really describe it."

[H/T Fox News]

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