IT’S the awe-inspiring pride of the United States – and it harbours a deadly power that could kill us all.
Yellowstone National Park is pristine wilderness, full of scenic landscape and iconic hot-pools and geysers that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year.
But it’s what lies beneath that has scientists scurrying.
We’ve long known that Yellowstone is merely the skin on top of a supervolcano – a giant pool of magma sitting just under the Earth’s surface.
Exactly how giant has been the subject of much speculation.
A team from the University of Utah havetold the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco that Yellowstone’s magama chamber is 2.5 times larger than previously thought.
It is an underground cavern measuring some 90km by 30km and containing between 200 and 300 billion cubic kilometres of molten rock.
If it blows it will wipe out America – and have enormous impacts on the rest of the world.
The university researchers described their discovery as “astounding”.
Prof Bob Smith told the BBC: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger … but this finding is astounding.”
The research is part of an ongoing effort to assess the true threat the molten beast represents.
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