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Brian Wilcox, an ex-member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defence, made the horrifying revelation while discussing a report by the space agency.
He said that NASA’s “risky” proposals to prevent an eruption could go wrong with possibly disastrous consequences.
One of the methods would be to drill into the bottom of the United States volcano and to use a pressurized spurt of water to release heat from the magma chamber.
“If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky,” he said.
“This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”
But Mr Wilcox warned it is clear something must be done about Yellowstone.
“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”
Wilcox says. “If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”
Instead, the idea is to drill in from the supervolcano from the lower sides, starting outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, and extracting the heat from the underside of the magma chamber. “This way you’re preventing the heat coming up from below from ever reaching the top of the chamber which is where the real threat arises,” Wilcox says.
However those who instigate such a project will never see it to completion, or even have an idea whether it might be successful within their lifetime. Cooling Yellowstone in this manner would happen at a rate of one metre a year, taking of the order of tens of thousands of years until just cold rock was left.
originally posted by: Grimpachi
Yellowstone is overdue for an eruption.
When it happens it could kill 100s of millions or even billions depending on the far reaching effects.
I hope our scientists have some plans on how to alleviate the threat.
originally posted by: gortex
a reply to: ADSE255
They estimate it would cost around $3.5bn , most of that would be picked up by energy companies so not that much in the scale of things.
originally posted by: intrptr
NASA explores space, for one. Two, actually drilling into an active magma chamber is impossible. Even if you did, the hole is too small to effect an eruption, the heat and pressure would melt the drilling apparatus long before it actually penetrated actual magma. All the rock at that depth is plastic, hot, and fluid. Especially above the magma.
If they were somehow able to get near the roof of the chamber at a weak 'spot' (the magma chamber below yellowstone is 7 miles by 50 miles) then insert a nuke and detonate it... who knows.
But I guess the only saving grace about a potential Yellowstone eruption is that Yellowstone is in America.