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  • The Earth's surface is shaking; long cracks split the ground open; lava rivers are rapidly

  • flowing down the slopes; explosions sound more and more often; rocks and other debris

  • are flying into the air; the sky is darkened by the clouds of ash.

  • Nah, it's not a plot of a new disaster movie!

  • It's just geologists who decided to drill into a super-volcano.

  • But before I tell you about all this drilling, let me introduce you to super-volcanoes that

  • can produce super-eruptions!

  • And when they do, they blow more than 240 cubic miles of ash, molten rock, and hot gases

  • up into the air.

  • In other words, four super-eruptions could fill the Grand Canyon to the brim!

  • Super-volcanoes get formed when gigantic volumes of scorching hot magma are trying to escape

  • from deep underground.

  • It rises close to the surface but can't break through the Earth's crust.

  • That's why at a depth of only several miles, there gathers a huge pressurized pool of bubbling

  • magma.

  • The pressure keeps growing because more and more of it is trying to get to the surface.

  • Until - bang! - a super-eruption occurs!

  • The most recent super-eruption took place in New Zealand.

  • Well, when I say "recent," I mean around 26,500 years ago.

  • That's when a super-volcano beneath the surface of Lake Taupo blew more than 300 cubic miles

  • of ash and pumice into the air.

  • Imagine 500,000 Great Pyramids of Giza flying up at the same timethat's how incredibly

  • powerful that eruption was!

  • But the most exciting and confusing thing about the eruption was that the Taupo volcano

  • didn't simply explode like many others.

  • Everything was going as usual at first: more than 200 square miles of magma had built up

  • under the surface, and the pressure was getting higher and higher.

  • But after the rock cracked, and the first portion of lava rushed out of the crater,

  • something went wrong, and the super-volcano took a break!

  • Only several months later, the disastrous explosion shook the ground, and thousands

  • of tons of lava, rocks, and ash erupted high into the atmosphere.

  • The unusual pattern of Taupo still confuses scientists to no end.

  • But the age of super-volcanoes isn't over.

  • The most infamous of them all is probably the one in Yellowstone National Park.

  • This giant is responsible for at least three ginormous eruptions and who knows how many

  • smaller ones!

  • If this monster erupted anywhere as strong as it did 2.1 million years ago, it would

  • spit out more than 600 cubic miles of red-hot stuff!

  • You can probably picture it more vividly if I tell you that this volume is the same as

  • 65,000,000 Capitol Rotundas in Washington, D.C. crammed together.

  • That’s a lot of politicians!

  • Anyway, scientists are sure that Yellowstone doesn't present any danger these days: for

  • an eruption to happen, magma inside has to be at least 50% molten.

  • With Yellowstone, this number is just 5 to 15 %.

  • But of course, Yellowstone isn't the only super-volcano on our planet.

  • New Zealand's Taupo you already know about, Japan's Aira Caldera, California's Long Valley,

  • Indonesia's Tobaany of them can one day entertain us with a super-eruption!

  • There are also several so-called super-volcanoes that haven't lived up to this name yet because

  • they've never produced anything like a super-eruption.

  • For example, in 1883, Indonesian volcano Krakatoa started to erupt.

  • The power of it tore the volcano's walls open, and cold seawater rushed into its molten insides.

  • The difference in temperatures made the volcano explode with a deafening boom which was clearly

  • heard 3,000 miles away in Australia!

  • It earned the blast the title of the loudest sound in history.

  • But even though the consequences of the eruption were truly disastrous, it still wasn't powerful

  • enough to be called a super-eruption.

  • By the way, if you've ever seen a volcanic eruption, tell me all about that in the comments

  • below!

  • We’d lava hear all about it!

  • ha

  • Anyway, what devastates scientists the most is how little they know about super-volcanoes.

  • Because those aren't just some overgrown fire mountainsno, they are way more complicated

  • than that.

  • Appearing so deep underground and extending for hundreds of miles, super-volcanoes don't

  • follow the ways of all others.

  • Experts are still unsure about the processes that trigger them, especially since super-eruptions

  • (thankfully) don't take place more often than every 50,000 years or so.

  • That's one of the reasons why some experts want to drill into a super-volcano.

  • It would allow them to collect samples and examine geothermal energy that's rising from

  • the heart of a volcano.

  • It could help to understand "if" or "when and how" a super-volcano might burst.

  • It's not the only reason why drilling into one may be a good idea.

  • Another daring project includes making a 6-mile-deep hole that would reach the belly of a super-volcano

  • and pump down cold pressurized water.

  • It's supposed to nail two birds with one stone: cool the volcano down and produce green energy!

  • By the way, don’t throw stones at birds.

  • It’s not nice.

  • Anyway, see for yourself: when the water got back from the drill hole, its temperature

  • would be around 662°F.

  • If there was a geothermal plant built anywhere near that place, the water could be used to

  • generate loads of electric power.

  • The whole process would be very simple, that's why such electric power would cost only $0.10

  • per kWh.

  • What's more, thanks to this technology, engineers would slowly but surely extract the heat from

  • the volcano, minimizing the risk of a super-eruption.

  • Sounds great but is it indeed?

  • Even though the idea of drilling a hole in a super-volcano seems to have its own benefits,

  • many physicists, geologists, and even politicians have their doubts.

  • Let's say, you don't drill too deep into the volcanojust deep enough to get some materials

  • to examine.

  • It's supposed to be safe since you just need some rock samples, and you aren't going to

  • tamper with the insides of this nature-made cauldron with magma.

  • But what's happening in reality is you getting inside a cage with sleeping lions and trying

  • to steal their food.

  • I mean you can get away with this crazy fit.

  • Or one of the lions can wake up...

  • The same will be going on with a super-volcano.

  • It's true that if you keep drilling at the surface, you won't do any harm.

  • But once you go a bit deeper or hit a hypothermal pocket, get ready for a calamity.

  • It will release gases that are very likely to cause a series of super-powerful explosions.

  • In the worst-case scenario, it may even trigger a full-blown volcano eruption!

  • And you already know what the results of such an event can be: from fountains of lava and

  • avalanches of molten rocks to climate changes all over the globe!

  • But what if you decided to drill even deeper in an attempt to cool the volcano down or

  • to release the pressure inside and prevent the thing from blowing?

  • It would be even riskier!

  • For example, you drill and drill and accidentally hit a magma chamber!

  • Then, while trying to cool down the volcano with water, you make the top of the magma

  • chamber way more fragile than it used to be.

  • It results in the whole structure being ready to collapse at any moment.

  • Or your drilling may lead to the release of toxic gases that tend to accumulate at the

  • top of the magma reservoir.

  • And at the moment you let these gases out by mistake, you'd better be wearing a full

  • face breathing mask!

  • Of course, you could avoid such dramatic consequences if you decided to drill somewhere away from

  • the center of the super-volcano.

  • But once again, these fellows are super-unpredictable, and nobody can figure out their patterns with

  • iron-clad certainty.

  • That's why the drilling isn't going to happen until its necessity starts to overweigh all

  • the risks.

  • Let sleeping dogs lie, you know?

  • In 2006, the world's largest mud volcano Lusi in Indonesia erupted, sending tons of boiling

  • water, gas, and mud in the air.

  • More than 30,000 people had to leave their homes and relocate.

  • And the volcano still isn't done with spewing out mud!

  • Some experts claimed that the reason for the disaster was nearby oil drilling that could

  • provoke the eruption.

  • On the other hand, the trigger could be an earthquake that happened 175 miles away.

  • You never know with volcanoes .

  • Hey, if you learned something new today, then give the video a like and share it with a

  • friend!

  • And here are some other videos I think you'll enjoy.

  • Just click to the left or right, and stay on the Bright Side of life!

The Earth's surface is shaking; long cracks split the ground open; lava rivers are rapidly

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What if You Drilled into a Volcano

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/14
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