Alaska may be hiding a huge volcanic system

Several volcanoes in the Islands of Four Mountains, Alaska.

Several volcanoes in the Islands of Four Mountains, Alaska.
image: John Lions / USGS

Geologists are now part of the same kind of interconnected volcanic system that clusters of Alaskan islands are actually found in Yellowstone National Park, as if they needed more upset and correct news. There is a reason to suspect that.

This volcanic archipelago, called the Islands of Four Mountains (IFM), is located along the Aleutian Islands. A new study led by John Power of the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory provides evidence of a “large previously unrecognized caldera” at IFM. Presentation December 7th AGU Fall 2020 Conference.

The cluster consists of six dense stratovolcanoes named Cleveland, Carlyle, Herbert, Kagamil, Tana and Uliaga. Stratovolcanoes are what we routinely think of when we imagine volcanoes. A high, steep mountain covered with a smoky cone. The area is littered with small cones and crevices. Of the six mountains, Cleveland is the most active in the last two decades, producing clouds of volcanic ash ranging from 15,000 to 30,000 feet.

Cleveland Volcano summit crater.

Cleveland Volcano summit crater.
image: Cindy Warner / USGS

The alleged caldera has long escaped detection because it is hidden in recent sediments and the ocean. And certainly, it was not easy for these geologists to gather their evidence.

Diana Roman, co-author of the study and geologist at the Carnegie Institution for Washington, DC, explained at AGU. statement.. “But everything we see is in line with the caldera in the area.”

As Rome stated, evidence was scraped by analyzing clues such as geological sediments, regional changes over time, outgassing, and gravimetric measurements (indicating the density of buried rocks). It was. IFM appears to be affected by this previously undetected caldera.

The caldera is a huge basement filled with magma and is known to produce some of the most devastating eruptions in the history of our planet (by comparison, stratovolcanoes are of relatively small magma. Accompanied by pockets). And in fact, for this very reason, they are often referred to as catastrophic eruptions.

A known caldera in the Aleutian Islands.

A known caldera in the Aleutian Islands.
image: John Power / USGS

Yellowstone is probably the most famous caldera on the planet. Due to its size and potential threats.It is not expected to erupt immediately, but if it does, the caldera will erupt. Pour lava Areas spanning 30-40 miles (48-64 km). These eruptions can also produce large amounts of ash that can change the climate around the world. Wind-carried sulfur aerosols and light ash particles can reach the entire globe and cause “significant drops in temperatures around the world.” according to To the US Geological Survey.

The possible calderas at IFM are unlikely to match Yellowstone in terms of size and threat (and many other identified calderas exist in the Aleutian Islands), but these geological features It does not underestimate the risks posed by. This is a potentially very serious discovery, and geologists may eventually have to reclassify IFM volcanoes. According to an AGU statement, a huge interconnected volcanic system could reignite in the future with “serious global consequences.”

In addition to changing climate, large-scale eruptions can also lead to social unrest and turmoil, as was the case in 43 BC. When the caldera-fueled Mount Okmok in Alaska blows off a chimney.Recently the study This eruption indirectly suggests that it led to the collapse of the Roman Republic and the Ptolemaic Kingdom in what is now Egypt. Again, no joke.

For the sake of clarity, IFM islands have not been proven to be part of the caldera. This is a strong premonition and needs to be strengthened by further observation.

“Our hope is to return to the Islands of Four Mountains, explore the ocean floor in more detail, investigate volcanic rocks in more detail, collect more seismic and gravity data, and sample more geothermal areas.” Said Roman.

I obviously love science, but this is one case where I really, really, really want scientists to be wrong. Seriously, make a mistake.

Back to top button