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Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens

 
flowerpot
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06/10/2009 08:44 PM
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Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
IS A supervolcano brewing beneath Mount St Helens? Peering under the volcano has revealed what may be an extraordinarily large zone of semi-molten rock, which would be capable of feeding a giant eruption.

Magma can be detected with a technique called magnetotellurics, which builds up a picture of what lies underground by measuring fluctuations in electric and magnetic fields at the surface. The fields fluctuate in response to electric currents travelling below the surface, induced by lightning storms and other phenomena. The currents are stronger when magma is present, since it is a better conductor than solid rock.

Graham Hill of GNS Science, an earth and nuclear science institute in Wellington, New Zealand, led a team that set up magnetotelluric sensors around Mount St Helens in Washington state, which erupted with force in 1980. The measurements revealed a column of conductive material that extends downward from the volcano. About 15 kilometres below the surface, the relatively narrow column appears to connect to a much bigger zone of conductive material.
This larger zone was first identified in the 1980s by another magnetotelluric survey, and was found to extend all the way to beneath Mount Rainier 70 kilometres to the north-east, and Mount Adams 50 kilometres to the east. It was thought to be a zone of wet sediment, water being a good electrical conductor.

However, since the new measurements show an apparent conduit connecting this conductive zone to Mount St Helens - which was undergoing a minor eruption of semi-molten material at the time the measurements were made - Hill and his colleagues now think the conductive material is more likely to be a semi-molten mixture. Its conductivity is not high enough for it to be pure magma, Hill says, so it is more likely to be a mixture of solid and molten rock.

Gary Egbert of Oregon State University in Corvallis, who is a magnetotellurics specialist but not a member of Hill's team, is cautious about the idea of a nascent supervolcano where Mount St Helens sits. "It seems likely that there's some partial melt down there," given that it is a volcanic area, he says. "But part of the conductivity is probably just water."If the structure beneath the three volcanoes is indeed a vast bubble of partially molten rock, it would be comparable in size to the biggest magma chambers ever discovered, such as the one below Yellowstone National Park.

Every few hundred thousand years, such chambers can erupt as so-called supervolcanoes - the Yellowstone one did so about 640,000 years ago. These enormous eruptions can spew enough sunlight-blocking ash into the atmosphere to cool the climate by several degrees Celsius.

Could Mount St Helens erupt like this? "A really big, big eruption is possible if it is one of those big systems like Yellowstone," Hill says. "I don't think it will be tomorrow, but I couldn't try to predict when it would happen."

Further measurements probing the structure of the crust beneath the other volcanoes in the area could help determine if the zone connects to them all, Hill says. He presented his team's results on 27 May at the Joint Assembly geophysics meeting in Toronto, Canada.
[link to www.newscientist.com]

Last Edited by Flowerpot on 06/10/2009 08:44 PM
Did the iron in your blood and calcium in your bones come from a long-ago supernova? Astronomer and writer Carl Sagan thought so. "We are star stuff", Sagan once said.
Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.


We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.

__Carl Sagan___
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 08:46 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
WOW! Fresh doom.

Great find OP.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 08:47 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
is she gonna blow?
crazy
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06/10/2009 08:48 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
WOW! Fresh doom.

Great find OP.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 699109

Things are starting to get going again..
Lizard Of Id
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06/10/2009 08:52 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Sitting on top another Yellowstone.....



Nice. :D
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 08:54 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
That's some good, good doom!

And they're all connected under there. Wow!
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 08:55 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
If it's connected to Rainier and Adams then when it goes sounds like they go also. The article didn't state that directly but it would seem prudent to deduce the possiblity of that.

Not good and in an area that also has the doom of the Juan de Fuca subduction zone.

And people say not to move to Cali because of their earthquakes. I think I would rather be there than in Oregon/Washington/British Columbia.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 08:59 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
If it's connected to Rainier and Adams then when it goes sounds like they go also. The article didn't state that directly but it would seem prudent to deduce the possiblity of that.

Not good and in an area that also has the doom of the Juan de Fuca subduction zone.

And people say not to move to Cali because of their earthquakes. I think I would rather be there than in Oregon/Washington/British Columbia.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 699854



Yeah, and if something that big went off I bet YS would respond. MEGA DOOM.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:03 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Mega doom indeed
dreaming reality

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06/10/2009 09:05 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
nice. only 500,000 more years to go.
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S. * M.
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06/10/2009 09:05 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
What if the whole planet is a supervolcano.


*



---V---
ElijahModerator
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06/10/2009 09:06 PM

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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Interesting and pin worthy I think.
crazy
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06/10/2009 09:07 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
What if the whole planet is a supervolcano.


*

Then we will all fry........

---V---
 Quoting: S. * M. 661889
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:10 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Oh, fuck. Just one damn thing after another.
Angel Girl on Cloud 9

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06/10/2009 09:13 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Hey FlowerPot!!

By the way still have my etch a sketch if you need to borrow it for coordinates. How have you been? Sorry off topic for a minute..lol

Thanks for the article.

Angel
"Careful or you will end up in my novel"

Angel
just waiting

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06/10/2009 09:13 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! volcano
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:14 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Seems more likely it's just a big magma chamber, feeding all three volcanoes, and maybe more. All are considered potentially active, and there's alot we don't understand about that area.
watcher
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06/10/2009 09:15 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Cool! Add another wollop of mashed potatoes to the DOOM plate...side order, of course, because it's FULL already!

5a
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06/10/2009 09:15 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
AC 699854 .... If one goes they all go .... DON'T think so, as one will releive the pressure for the others, IMHO !

Eagle
crazy
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06/10/2009 09:16 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Oh, fuck. Just one damn thing after another.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 698552

YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!so fun....ew e ew ah ah bing bang wolla wolla bing bang ew e ew ah ah bing bang wolla bing bang
watcher
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06/10/2009 09:16 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
I'm really hoping a tribe of Sasquatch come and whisk me and my family off to their place of refuge...and feed us, take care of us...you know...take us out of harm's way and teach us their survival skills and stuff.
crazy
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06/10/2009 09:17 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! :volcano:
 Quoting: just waiting

Is this a recent picture
ALeopardSanctuary

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06/10/2009 09:18 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Hurray for flowerpot's pin. One more place not to move.
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Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:20 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
What if the whole planet is a supervolcano.


*



---V---
 Quoting: S. * M. 661889



it is. it has a molten core
just waiting

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06/10/2009 09:21 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! volcano

Is this a recent picture
 Quoting: crazy 687390

Be scary if it was but its not.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:21 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! :volcano:

Is this a recent picture
 Quoting: crazy 687390

I think it's Mt. Pinatubo in the Phillipines. 1987? 88?
Apocalypse Troll
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06/10/2009 09:22 PM

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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
Fresh doom is the finest.
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Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:22 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
When that thing goes off, the carbon footprint produced will cause AlGore to have a seizure hopefully.

Mother nature is chiefly responsible for 'global climate changes'

Fuk Gore
crazy
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06/10/2009 09:23 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! :volcano:

Is this a recent picture

Be scary if it was but its not.
 Quoting: just waiting

Thank goodness
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:23 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
ring of fire time
just waiting

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06/10/2009 09:23 PM
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Re: Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens
bring it on! volcano

Is this a recent picture

I think it's Mt. Pinatubo in the Phillipines. 1987? 88?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 699863

You are correct:-]

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