There's a chance a supervolcano could erupt at Yellowstone Park a lot sooner than anticipated and destroy everything in its path. The news causes alarm because one eruption from the supervolcano could wipe out life on Earth.
The timeline shows temperatures surrounding the volcano increased over decades, instead of the centuries that scientists thought it would take before the volcano makes that kind of transition.
Geologists previously believed it would take centuries for a buildup like that to lead to an eruption. "We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption", said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State.
If a major volcanic eruption were to happen at Yellowstone, it has the ability to shoot 1,000 cubic centimeters of rock and ash, which happens to be 250,000 times more than the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980.
According to researchers at Arizona State University, they examined fossilized ash and minerals and determined a supervolcano could erupt in a few decades.
"It's shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption", said Hannah Shamloo, an Arizona State University graduate student involved in the study, to The New York Times.
The new discovery, which was presented in August, comes after another study in 2011, in which researchers found the ground above the magma chamber bulged by up to 25 centimetres in a span of about seven years.
Yellowstone's volcano is closely monitored, however, and Michael Poland, the scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory for the U.S. Geological Survey, told National Geographic that the supervolcano does not pose an immediate threat. The supervolcano has been analyzed by many research teams and independent volcanologists in the past.
According to ZME Science, Yellowstone has erupted at least three times; the last time was approximately 630,000 years ago. You can still see evidence of the volcano's active state, with natural wonders like the Old Faithful geyser.