British experts warn of dangers of supervolcanoes
British experts have warned the UK government
about the dangers of supervolcanoes.
An eruption of one of these volcanic monsters could upset the global
climate for years, leading to failed harvests and widespread famine.
Laurence Spicer has more.
The warning, from Britain's Geological
Society, was given to a science committee of the Westminster
Parliament on Thursday. Of particular concern to scientists is a
volcanic giant lurking beneath the Yellowstone National Park in the
USA. The last time an eruption occurred there, around 640 thousand
years ago, it formed an 85 kilometre-wide crater. Supervolcanoes
are different from their more common cousins. A supervolcano forms
as a large bubble of molten magma close to the surface of the
planet, rather than as a distinctive cone-shaped mountain. Very
occasionally the molten rock erupts, with devastating effect.
Professor Bill McGuire of University College, London.
Professor Bill McGuire said:
The impact will be huge for everyone on the
planet. If we look at the last super-eruption it ejected something
like 3 thousand cubic kilometers of debris into the atmosphere. Now
this spreads out over the planet, it cuts down solar radiation, it
creates a volcanic winter. So you have no global harvest for two or
three years, maybe. People will just starve to death.
At the moment nothing can be done to stop
such an eruption, and scientists say one is inevitable sooner or
later. But increased monitoring of sites of concern could give
mankind sufficient warning to prepare for the worst. In London, this
is Laurence Spicer.
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