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In Bolivia, a Supervolcano Is Rising

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the going-for-volcano-of-the-year dept.

Earth 469

dutchwhizzman writes "Uturuncu is a Bolivian supervolcano. Research suggests that it has an eruption frequency of roughly 300,000 years and the last eruption was, give or take a few years, 300,000 years ago. Research suggests that it started rising in a 70 km diameter by 1 to 2 centimeters per year, making it the fastest-growing volcano on the planet. Break out the tin foil hats, and store plenty of canned beans, because it may just erupt before Yellowstone pops its cork."

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Oh hell (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854474)

This'll make the price of cocaine skyrocket, harming innocent consumers the world over.

Re:Oh hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854790)

Don't store too many canned beans cans though, or most of them will erupt before the volcano.

Re:Oh hell, intentional ... UStrategy (3, Funny)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855066)

USA has been losing the drug war. After trillions of dollars spent with 3 (almost 4) decades of losses the WoD UStrategy has moved to mother-nature manipulation to initiate volcanic activity in global regions that produce and export drugs to US for power and profit. Finally a WoD UStrategy that will destroy the organic source of the problem. No more crops, way less consumers, and the end of another underground economy.

"Break out the tin foil hats" (3, Informative)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854502)

I thought tinfoil hats are to protect you from government mind-rays, not lava. Though tinfoil is pretty amazing stuff.

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854532)

You are correct. For lava you need to duck and cover.

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (1)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855038)

I know the cover is to keep the molten rock and ashes from falling on you, but are you really thinking about cooking dinner when the volcano erupts?

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854570)

I think it's like when you line the baking tray with foil before putting the turkey in the oven. Clearly our new cannibalistic post-volcano overlords want to make sure that we're nicely cooked - not too dry, but not undercooked in the centre either. The last thing you need is to have to get up from your throne of skulls in your remote mountain fortress every 10 minutes to run to the restroom.

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854774)

I thought tinfoil hats are to protect you from government mind-rays, not lava. Though tinfoil is pretty amazing stuff.

You are correct. The proper procedure for a volcano is to duck and cover.

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854854)

You might want to finish any exposed points with a layer of duct tape just to be on the safe side.

Re:"Break out the tin foil hats" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854958)

It is HARP that is causing the super volcano.

It's coming right for us!!! (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854516)

Looks like I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue.

70km diameter, non circumference (4, Informative)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854528)

That's 70km across, not circumference.

Re:70km diameter, non circumference (3, Funny)

phikapjames (811889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854672)

That's what she said!

Re:70km diameter, non circumference (3, Funny)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854784)

Research suggests that it started rising in a 70 km circumference by 1 to 2 centimeters per year...

Negative, TFP said "circumference". Wikipedia indicates "approximately 70 km across" (across=diameter). It's a huge difference.

The actual circumference of a 70km diameter circle would be ~219.8 km
Conversely, the diameter of a 70km circumference would be ~22.29 km

Of course, this only works if it's a perfect circle, which is unlikely.

Re:70km diameter, non circumference (-1, Offtopic)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854966)

*WOOSH*

Re:70km diameter, non circumference (0, Offtopic)

MichaelKristopeitDad (2488356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854706)

That's 70km across, not circumference.

Do you mean to say that timothy didn't do a thorough research and fact checking before posting this story? I cannot believe that. It would be a first !

2012-12-21 (2)

InfiniteZero (587028) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854548)

The Mayans are on to something...

Re:2012-12-21 (2)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854568)

They were still collecting the necessary Far Side Comics before they could continue the rest of their calendar. They just died out before they could finish it.

Re:2012-12-21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854582)

Why is it always that disasters are scheduled to happen more or less now?
Volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago should be erupting about now.
Meteors that destroyed life millions of years ago should be arriving about now.

Anyway, I always wonder if it wouldn't be possible to drill a hole in the volcano and let off some pressure or something.

Re:2012-12-21 (3, Insightful)

FalcDot (1224920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854664)

Because disasters that have passed are no longer newsworthy, and disasters scheduled for a hundred years from now aren't newsworthy yet.

In other words, if it isn't about "more or less now", noone would care and you wouldn't hear anything about it.

Re:2012-12-21 (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854736)

Anyway, I always wonder if it wouldn't be possible to drill a hole in the volcano and let off some pressure or something.

While this would be a very good source of geothermal power for us puny humans, I doubt that we could drill a hole wide enough to accommodate 1 cubic meter per second, which according to TFA, is the rate at which the magma chamber is growing. That, and you are left with the problem of what to do with the 86,400 cubic meters of magma per day (about 170,000 tonnes' worth), every day. Where do you plan on parking it?

While we humans pride ourselves on our technology and our ability to move things around and build things, a supervolcano is simply on too big of a scale for us. It would be like a mite imagining it had the power to tell an elephant where to go. Geology (vulcanism, earthquakes) and meteorology (hurricanes, tornadoes) is going to happen to us whether we like it or not. Hopefully one day we'll be smart enough to just get out of the way in time when it does happen.

Re:2012-12-21 (2)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854926)

I doubt that we could drill a hole wide enough to accommodate 1 cubic meter per second

It doesn't sound too crazy. The Alaska oil pipeline transports 4 cubic meters per second, and that's through a fairly thin and very long pipe.

Where do you plan on parking it?

Dump it on nearby surface ? Maybe preferable to waiting until it explodes.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855016)

Yeah, but by god we need to start fixing this climate before it is too late.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854878)

There are plenty of disasters scheduled to happen on any 10,000 to 30,000 years interval.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855018)

Don't forget the New Madrid Fault The "Big one" - San Andreas That huge island that's going to split in two and kill the entire eastern seaboard with a tsunami Yellowstone

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

gellenburg (61212) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854590)

Well, the Mayans did used to occupy that area. A super-volcano erupting would end their civilization as they knew it.

Re:2012-12-21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854616)

Mayans lived thousands of km north, in Middle America, no?

perhaps you're thinking about Incas

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

gellenburg (61212) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854670)

Indeed! My bad. Mea culpa.

Re:2012-12-21 (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854934)

My bad. Mea culpa.

Redundant much? You said the same thing twice! That's more than once!

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854728)

Not only that but wasn't the name of their nation translated "the one world".

So the world would end if they did.

Re:2012-12-21 (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854742)

Mayans in Bolivia? Sigh, no child left behind huh.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854848)

Maybe they were tourists?

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855028)

Maybe they were terrorists?!

Re:2012-12-21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854858)

While Mayans didn't live in Bolivia, A Super Volcano that close could easily put an end to them. I remember seeing a special on super volcano in Yellowstone. It would take out the USA almost to the east coast. But the real danger was in the dust that would slowly kill you.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

gellenburg (61212) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854948)

It's been 20 years since I was in school. Forgive me for not having 100% recall on the migratory patterns of neolithic South American protocivilizations.

Re:2012-12-21 (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855058)

It's been 20 years since I was in school. Forgive me for not having 100% recall on the migratory patterns of neolithic South American protocivilizations.

Pre-classic, not neolithic.
I apologise, I'll go home now ;-).

Re:2012-12-21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37855014)

Seriously? I knew better, but it really didn't seem like a big deal. It was an off the cuff comment. No child left behind (while it is a ridiculously STUPID idea) has nothing to do with that. Public schools should be (were?) a center for general knowledge, ensuring citizens are educated well enough to become informed voters and citizens. Knowledge of specific tribes of people in Central America several thousand years ago wouldn't help with those things.

I'm an engineer and don't care whether it was the Mayans, Incas, or the Pygmies of Papua New Guinea who inhabited that area circa 2600 BC. None of those things make me more money, a better citizen, or affect my daily life in any way whatsoever. I could live a wonderful and fulfilling life with my family without ever having that information.

TL:DR - Don't be a dick

silver lining (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854564)

If they both erupt the "is man effecting climate" argument would become moot.

Re:silver lining (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854738)

No, the largest eruption on record only gave like a year of cooled weather, and while these are likely to be substantially larger eruptions, an eruption large enough to produce a climate change mooting atmospheric change would probably go a long ways towards ending life as we know it.

Perhaps somebody knows better, but the way that the effect works, you need a huge change the next year and it diminishes each year as the particles fall out of the atmosphere.

My hunch is basically that it would give us some breathing room, but in the long run we'd still have to get our house in order as we're running out of oil and eventually we'll get to the point where the atmosphere is warming again.

Re:silver lining (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854860)

I don't think you know how bad supervolcanoes are.

Think Mt. St. Helens.

Then multiply it by 1000. At once. Just for this guy. It would be bad. A lot of people on different continents would die from lack of food because the growing season would be nonexistent for many people. For years.

If the Siberian Traps go, we're all fucked. That's called an extinction event.

--
BMO

All the volcanoes in a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854988)

times 130 equals what we humans are doing to the planet.

Mt St Helens was only one volcano.

You do the maths.

Re:silver lining (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855040)

Yes indeedy. Or if Yellowstone goes. Did anyone point out that supervolcano eruptions (or straight up basaltic flows) can go on for, say, million year timescales? They can alter climate catastrophically for time frames of hundreds of thousands of years and they produce all sorts of interesting gases that are up-front toxic, not to mention the hot molten rock that can spread out over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers. They are baaaaad.

And just one of the many completely natural ways the Earth is constantly messing with "the ecosystem" -- a.k.a. life forms scrabbling not to become extinct against the background of periodic catastrophic extinction event change.

rgb

Re:silver lining (1, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855050)

Wow really? I mean this has got to be about the dumbest thing I have ever read on slashdot.
"No, the largest eruption on record only gave like a year of cooled weather, and while these are likely to be substantially larger eruptions, an eruption large enough to produce a climate change mooting atmospheric change would probably go a long ways towards ending life as we know it.
Duhhh A super volcano would be at least an order of magnitude worse then Krakatoa. I decided to spend a little time and look it up and it seems that the VEI 8 eruptions of "Yellowstone was one" have a Dense Rock Equivalent (DRE) of ejecta of over 1000km^3. Several including some of the Yellowstone ones reached well over 25,000km^3 So multiply that by two and see what you get? BTW Krakatoa was only 25km^3.
If you had two 25,000km^3 events it would be mind numbingly bad. Yes we are talking end of the world wipe the slate almost clean bad.
The Toba super eruption was 70,000 years ago and was at the small end of the VEI scale killed 70% of the human population of the earth.
Really are you such a climate change zealot that you must mindlessly dismiss any statement that you feel undermines it?
Wow I am not a doubter of climate change and support reduced CO2 but this is making it into a religion that must defended by the faithful at all times.
So NO YOU ARE AS WRONG AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY BE! Even a single VEI 8 Event much less two would make the current climate change a none issue because there is a good chance that the majority of the human race would be dead.

Re:silver lining (4, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855072)

A supervolcano is *significantly* larger than the largest recorded volcanic eruption, on the order of ten times or more. The last one, Lake Toba, was 70,000 years ago, or so. And according to what I have read, mitochondrial DNA shows a genetic bottleneck around that time where something reduced the human population down to a few tens of thousands across the entire world. And this is back when humans were a lot better at moving around and hunting and gathering getting their own food.

It would make the current level of human climate change look like a joke in particularly bad taste.

The largest volcanic eruption in historic times, in 1815 at Mount Tambora, ejected the equivalent of around 100 km3 (24 cu mi) of dense rock and made 1816 the "Year Without a Summer" in the whole northern hemisphere. The Lake Toba explosion ejected 2,800 km3 (670 cu mi) and probably created volcanic equivalent of a Nuclear winter for years, not to mention the acidic rain and other fun volcanic stuff.

You can read most of this at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory [wikipedia.org]

So yeah, we are talking about an apocalyptic scenario if this thing, or one of the other ones goes off any time soon. Billions would die, absolutely guaranteed.

Re:silver lining (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854808)

If they both erupt the "is man effecting climate" argument would become moot.

WORLD ENDS. MINORITIES DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED.

Tap Energy of Volcano? (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854572)

I am coming at this from an uneducated viewpoint, but would appreciate an answer from someone a bit more educated...

If we were to drill into this forming volcano, use geothermal energy to create electricity, could you delay, decrease or prevent the volcano from erupting? It seems like a really good win/win situation where you get almost free energy and prevent a small country from getting obliterated.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854624)

I'm interested to know the answer too, if you had a really large scale geothermal install and 20k years to pull heat out.

One point though. This is a supervolcano. If it erupts, it will take out much of South America, not just Bolivia, and it'll be a worldwide trainwreck since crops will fail pretty much everywhere.

A supervolcano eruption is a local apocalypse and a global disaster.....

-PM

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854642)

It should work. It should be able to steal enough heat from the ground below that it will cool and go back further.
Then you move down the pipes stealing said heat as the temperatures fall.

The only possible problem with drilling down towards a super volcano is that there is the same risk of it popping like there is putting a thin needle in to a balloon.
It works most of the time, but there are those times where it could just go pop.
Balloons, no problem, supervolcano, bye bye half of South American life...

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854686)

I do not know the answer. But it seems a little too risky for whoever attempts that.
But... well, people do very risky jobes... so: Why not?
Does anybody knows at whats the longest distance the lava of a super Volcano reached measured from the center of the volcano?

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (4, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854714)

I found some facts to help me wrap my brain around the magnitude of the problem. If any of my facts are incorrect, please let me know!

Human's Energy Consumption (annual) = 4.74 * 10^20 J
1 ton of TNT = 4.184 * 10^9 J
St. Helen's volcano = 2.4 * 10^7 tons of TNT = roughly 1 * 10^17 J

I have a hard time believing that St. Helen's toal energy is only about 1/5,0000 of our total annual energy consumption. If it is true, however, it seems like venting and using the power is feasible.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854746)

So not only are you going to harness the energy from a volcanic eruption, but you're going to collect the energy and redistribute it with 100% efficiency?

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854832)

I don't have to redistribute it with any kind of efficiency. My primary goal is to keep the sucker from blowing up. Worst case scenario, we vent and let the energy escape for free. In that way we'd have a controlled eruption over years rather than in one giant blast.

Anything we can harness would be bonus.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854870)

Doesn't matter if you have losses in transmission. The point is to cool the magma and produce some power. And if you can't transmit it all, you can set up industrial operations to use the excess, like, for example, converting bauxite into aluminum or perhaps making titanium on a large scale, desalinization, glass making.... All as a by-produce of saving the planet.

The key problems are could you ever cool the magma fast enough (does the heat come in faster than you can get it out given heat transfer limits?), would the magma just go somewhere else.... Also, could you count on sustained civilization for long enough to pull the heat out, say, 20k years?

--PM

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37855090)

The key problems are...

You forgot "after drilling into it, does the first person to peek into the hole get the whole supervolcano in their face?"

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855002)

St. Helen's was NOT a "Supervolcano".

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (3, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854720)

I am coming at this from an uneducated viewpoint, but would appreciate an answer from someone a bit more educated...

If we were to drill into this forming volcano, use geothermal energy to create electricity, could you delay, decrease or prevent the volcano from erupting? It seems like a really good win/win situation where you get almost free energy and prevent a small country from getting obliterated.

70km across (35,000m radius, about 4 billion square meters)... you were planning on extracting energy using maybe 30cm diameter pipes? Say, generously, these pipes can pull heat energy from lava up to 30m away from themselves (3000 square meters), To drain heat energy from just 1% of the surface of the dome, you'd need 13,000 pipes - how deep are you planning to sink them to have an effect? Even if you solidify the cap to a depth of 5km, I'm not sure that the forces underneath would be contained, they'd probably just divert to somewhere nearby, and likely explode with even greater force from a smaller area.

It would be a big project - if you put all the oil drillers in the western hemisphere on the job, you might make an ineffective cooling "cap" a few km deep within a few hundred years - all that heat being dumped into the ocean (unless you have a preferable heat sink?) would have a devastating effect on thousands of square km of sea life, and sure, there'd be "free" geothermal energy until the volcano blew, but only as far as you could transmit it.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854796)

Thanks for your reply. my question is why would the pipe only to pull energy from lava a few meters away from itself? If I am extracting energy from the lava underneath, it seems like conduction would mean I'd be pulling from a much larger area. I'm not looking to drain all of the energy in one day or one year. Just enough to keep the system in some type of equilibrium. If the numbers I found for Mt. St Helen are correct, and even if I assume that this volcano is a thousand times larger, it doesn't seem like you'd need to extract that much energy over a period of a century (these suckers form really slow) to maintain an equiibirum position.

Again, I will admit I am nowhere near to being an expert on this... I'd love to find out why I'm wrong.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855054)

I don't think you quite get the scale of this.

This baby is 70 km in diameter, rising at 2 cm a year across the board: (35*100.000)^2 cm * pi * 2cm = 76 969 020 m3 of magma you want to cool down, even the Icelandic would give up on that.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854902)

13k pipes seems like a cheap price to pay to preserve South America from an apocalypse and save the world from a global agricultural train wreck.

I guess an alternative is to relocate everyone in South America and stockpile 2 years of food for every person alive. That'd be a lot more practical if we only had a few hundred million people alive at the time--probably a better way to go.

--PM

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854748)

In addition to the risk of popping it, you have to realize that there's a tremendous amount of energy there, it's sort of like how you can have a magnitude 5 earthquake and then have a magnitude 9 a few months later, there's just so much energy involved that you're not going to have a relatively minor thing like that bleeding off enough energy for it to make much of a difference.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854852)

Please see some of the numbers I found on Mt. Saint Helen. If those numbers are off, please point me to better sources. Thanks.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854800)

I don't think you could do it with just geothermal extraction, but as a somewhat more mad-scientist oriented approach, might it be possible to drill a pressure-release valve? Obviously you'd have to use an unmanned machine for such a venture, because you will lose it once the lava begins to flow, but if you could get to the right point before the pressure gets too high, might you be able to drain it off in a reasonably controlled manner?

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (2)

danhaas (891773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854872)

IANAG, but I think removing heat wouldn't make such a difference.

There's some process in the mantle feeding this area, adding mass to it. The biggest problem is pressure, since that mass is used to compress the volume under the volcano. When the rock shatters, that pressure is communicated with the surface and then there is an upward flow.

Refrigerating the volume of rock under the volcano won't change much of its pressure.

From a geoengineering point of view, I think that what's necessary is a controlled eruption to alleviate the pressure. But I have no idea how deep it would be necessary to drill.

I would really appreciate if a geologist could correct me here (I'm a mechanical/petroleum engineer)

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854916)

the article says lava is flowing in about 1 cubic meter per second .... if you were to tap dat volcano... it means you would probably see 1 cubic meter of lava coming out of your tap every second ... i dont know how much lava that equals to if you flatten it out over land, but lets say about 5 square meters... every second ... so 1 square kilometer of lava every couple of minutes ... where the heck are you going put that stuff ?

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37855088)

Where to put it? New ocean front property for Bolivians. It's the new real estate market! I saw a documentary about this a few years ago. Some guy tried it with crystals.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854920)

I don't know how you'd do that. The Magma Chamber below the caldera is many times the size of the caldera. I don't know how you'd siphon sufficient energy quickly enough for it to make any meaningful difference. Add to that the fact that there may be a magma plume underlying this and I just don't see how you could possible make any meaningful difference.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854976)

Drilling next to a high pressure magma chamber will just make it happen sooner.

Re:Tap Energy of Volcano? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855092)

You'd need to take the energy out of that thing at a certain rate. Let's see what ballpark that rate falls into.

For potential energy, if we assume average crust density of 2.7g/cm^3, radius of 35km, 10km thick, then 2*pi*(35km)^2*10km*2.7g/cm^3 = 6E15kg. That rising 1cm a year means energy flow of 6E14J/year = 18MW. That's the minimum you'd have to extract, methinks.

The heat flow from the mantle over this area is 65E-3 W/(m^2) * (2*pi*(35 km)^2) = 500MW, so it's an order of magnitude more.

Even if the assumptions are quite off, you're still looking at dozens to hundreds of megawatts. So in terms of handling the thermal power, it's well within our capabilities. As for engineering reality, I don't know how easy of a project it would be. My worry is that it may need a lot of water just to get going, and I don't know how those rocks are at absorbing water.

But my worry is something else: our biosphere has came to be in presence of such "destructive" events. The question is, thus, if we protect ourselves from all major eruptions, what unintended consequences will it have?

Well if if explodes... (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854576)

...at least that'll cool off the globe by a few degrees. I guess I won't sell my Hummer just yet.

Re:Well if if explodes... (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854594)

I guess I won't sell my Hummer just yet.

And in just 65 million years, you'll be able to put gas in it.

Re:Well if if explodes... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854768)

Don't worry, gas is going to run out long before then. Oh we'll still be able to synthesize it from other things, but I'm sure the price will limit it to government/official/emergency use only. On the bright side America will be forced to kick its obesity habit since towns are built on such a huge scale - any commute is going to be a long bike ride.

Caldera? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854632)

Supervolcano? Is this like one of those... what did they used to call 'em,... caldera's?

Re:Caldera? (2)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854646)

I think a caldera is just the left over empty bowl of a volcano that collapses in on itself or explodes out. Like Crater Lake in Oregon.

In Russia, a Supervolcano Is Sinking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854636)

In Russia, a Supervolcano Is Sinking.

Re:In Russia, a Supervolcano Is Sinking. (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854744)

Sinking or being piped through a series of underground tubes as part of a plot by a mad scientist living in Bolivia?

Re:In Russia, a Supervolcano Is Sinking. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854850)

Sinking or being piped through a series of underground tubes as part of a plot by a mad scientist living in Bolivia?

Are you saying Ted Stevens is behind this?

Re:In Russia, a Supervolcano Is Sinking. (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854970)

The reanimated zombie of Ted Stevens working with Undead Tesla.

At least they aren't in Italy... (1)

jesseck (942036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854662)

FTFA:

"It's not a volcano that we think is going to erupt at any moment, but it certainly is interesting, because the area was thought to be essentially dead," de Silva said.

Re:At least they aren't in Italy... (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854710)

I suspect worrying about the legal system will be way down the list if a super volcano erupts underneath you.

Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854676)

Is it too late to start investing in coffee futures?

300.000 (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854732)

300.000 years isn't very long. Now if it were 300,000 years, that's a whole different story...

Re:300.000 (1)

fatgav (555629) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854806)

I will not make any assumptions as to whether that is a joke or not, but if you were being serious, you may like to know that members of many continental European countries use a comma as their decimal point and vice versa. Alas 13,000.00 would be written as 13.000,00. As the original poster's name includes the word 'dutch' it may give an indication along this line.

Re:300.000 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854980)

When translating text into a different language, it is customary to also translate the various other locale-specific conventions. For example, if you are translating a note about a meeting on the third of January from French to American English, then you would be incorrect if you did not rewrite 1/3 as 3/1. Similarly, you would be incorrect if you did not change 100,000 into 100.000. This is especially important if there are three digits after the decimal point, because comma is used as a thousands separator in some locales and as a radix point in others.

Re:300.000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37855022)

Yeah, but he was posting in English. In English, we write 300,000, not 300.000.

Re:300.000 (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37855032)

Alas, ones nationality doth colour ones perceptions.

Re:300.000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854824)

Sigh.

Damn septics, always assuming how they handle the decimal mark [wikipedia.org] is the only way to do it.

Re:300.000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854830)

It is all cultural
some people write 300 000
whilst others will use 300,000
and another set will use 300.000
the 300 000 is the International Standard, but all 3 are used in many places for 300 * 1000

Wasn't just the Mayans predicting the end (0)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854764)

Wasn't just the Mayans predicting the end of the world in 2012.

Jimmy Buffet also predicted the world would end with a volcano.

I don't know!

Re:Wasn't just the Mayans predicting the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37855046)

The Mayans didn't predict anything. Their calendar doesn't even end in 2012. When it comes to Mayan apocalypse theories, even the stuff that most layman sceptics will tell you is total bullshit. Nothing to see here, move along.

HUrrah (-1, Troll)

johntravis26 (2224568) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854788)

very nice post you have share

One will probably set the other off (1)

gb7djk (857694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854812)

After all, when one of these super volcanoes goes off, there will likely be some seismic consequences and if the other volcano is ready to pop, that might just provide enough omph to make it go too...

Noooooo! (0, Troll)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854826)

(Insert hysterical sounds here)

Global warming! Global warming!

Its gonna blow in 2012 (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854868)

Look, it was predicted by the South Americans. Who would know the terrain best? Natives who lived there for thousands of years? Or some mamby pamby scientist in a lab coat, thick glasses, may be a beard and a few letters behind his name?

Good, now I will resolve the defect about my time counter being 32 bits and going to over flow in y2k32 as "not worth fixing."

What would happen if we bombed it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854874)

Serious question, could bombing it reduce the pressure (causing it to erupt before critical pressure) and safely spew out the dangerous stuff?

What about a channel for the flows to the ocean / safe zone? Perhaps constructed by Mike Roark, using concrete barriers and a bus?

Against all odds... (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854884)

...it'll blow up on Dec. 21 2012.

If only because it'll be bloody inconvenient as we won't be able to shut up the 2012 doomsday nuts...ever.

Large margin of error on that eruption prediction (2)

Walking The Walk (1003312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854946)

The Wikipedia article linked from the /. summary states that the volcano last produced lava "between 890 and 271 thousand years ago". I'm not sure that really qualifies as "give or take a few years, 300.000 years ago".

Not a super volcano (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37854994)

The actual volcano in question ISN'T a super volcano. It's a conventional volcano as it has a mountain peak. A super volcano never forms a mountain because of the size and speed of the eruption can't pile lava up to form a mountain peak. All there is of a super volcano is a large caldera at ground level, or perhaps in a valley (like at Yellowstone). However there ARE extinct super volcanos in the area (perhaps not so extinct?).

Failz0rs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37854996)

brNing your own lOok at your soft,
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