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Yellowstone timebomb

By conducting a number of numerical simulations of this process, the research team showed that these large reservoirs are crucial to generating the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth.

But, fortunately, the team also showed that these large reservoirs can take millions of years to form, hence why ‘super-eruptions’ happen so rarely.

Yellowstone is believed to have seen super eruptions at intervals of two million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago, meaning another one could be due any time.

It is believed the new findings could help to understanding why some volcanoes erupt frequently and at certain magnitudes.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the amount of magma that is stored in the upper layer of the Earth’s crust determines the frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions. 

Small eruptions that erupt less than one cubic kilometre of material occur very frequently (from daily to yearly), while the largest eruptions that erupt hundreds of cubic kilometres of material are infrequent, with hundreds of thousands of years between them.

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