A 100-foot fissure has opened up in the Grand Teton National Park – not far from the potentially catastrophic Yellowstone volcano.
The giant crack in the Wyoming–based national park has prompted officials to shut down areas from tourists in case of landslides.
WoodTV.com, a US-news site affiliated with NBC, reported: “A 100-foot long fissure has prompted the closing of part of Grand Teton National Park.”
The Grand Teton National Park said in a statement: “The Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point areas are currently closed due to elevated potential for rockfall.
“The area was closed to protect human safety on July 10 after expanding cracks in a rock buttress were detected.
“It is unknown how long the closure will be in effect. Geologists are monitoring the buttress for movement and have initiated a risk assessment for the area.”
It is currently unclear how the crack opened but it is likely due to normal seismic activity in the national park area.
Despite being around 100 kilometres from the Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton does sit over the Yellowstone supervolcano.
If it was seismic activity beneath Grand Teton which caused the fissure, it could be a sign that Yellowstone is reawakening.
If the Wyoming volcano were to erupt an estimated 87,000 people would be killed immediately and two-thirds of the USA would immediately be made uninhabitable.
The large spew of ash into the atmosphere would block out sunlight and directly affect life beneath it creating a “nuclear winter”.
The massive eruption could be a staggering 6,000 times as powerful as the one from Washington’s Mount St Helens in 1980 which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces.
If the volcano explodes, a climate shift would ensue as the volcano would spew massive amounts of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, which can form a sulphur aerosol that reflects and absorbs sunlight.
Yellowstone is currently recharging as its magma chambers fill with molten rock from the Earth’s mantle – the subsurface layer beneath the crust.
Last month, it was revealed scientists have devised a new way to find out how quickly magma is building up beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano.
The technique allows experts to accurately estimate the amount of magma entering the supervolcano from deep beneath Earth’s crust in a process known as recharging.
While the new method does not allow scientists to predict when Yellowstone will erupt, it could help to better understand how the volcano replenishes its deadly magma stores.
Researchers at Washington State University said these pools of molten volcanic rock build in subsurface magma chambers and are key to the eruption process.
‘It is the coal in the furnace that’s heating things up,’ said study coauthor Professor Peter Larson.
‘It’s heating up the boiler. The boiler is what explodes.
‘This tells us what is heating the boiler.’
Once these chambers are filled, the landform could explode at any time, potentially erupting within months or several millennia after a magma recharge.
The eruption occurs when the magma chambers burst, throwing as much as 240 cubic miles (1,000 cubic kilometres) of magma into the air.
A key driver of the volcano’s destructive power is an explosive, silica-rich volcanic rock called rhyolite that breaks through the Earth’s crust during an eruption.
In the new study Professor Larson and his colleagues focused on the plume of magma heating the rhyolite from below.
‘This gives us an idea of how much magma is recharging the volcano every year,’ said Professor Larson.
The researchers ‘spiked’ several hot springs in Yellowstone National Park with the stable radioactive isotope deuterium.
Researchers said the chemical was harmless to the environment and approved for use by park officials.
The hot springs the team spiked are closely linked to a maze of hydrothermal vents that play a key role in the Yellowstone volcanic system.
Using the temperature of the springs and the time taken for the deuterium to return to normal background radiation levels, the team was able to calculate the amount of water and heat flowing out of the springs.
Researchers found that previous studies underestimated the amount of water coursing through the springs and the amount of heat leaving the springs.
COULD AN ERUPTION AT THE YELLOWSTONE SUPERVOLCANO BE PREVENTED?
Nasa believes drilling up to six miles (10km) down into the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park to pump in water at high pressure could cool it.
Despite the fact that the mission would cost $3.46 billion (£2.63 billion), Nasa considers it ‘the most viable solution.’
Using the heat as a resource also poses an opportunity to pay for plan – it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10 (£0.08) per kWh.
But this method of subduing a supervolcano has the potential to backfire and trigger the supervolcanic eruption Nasa is trying to prevent.
‘Drilling into the top of the magma chamber ‘would be very risky;’ however, carefully drilling from the lower sides could work.
ven besides the potential devastating risks, the plan to cool Yellowstone with drilling is not simple.
Doing so would be an excruciatingly slow process that one happen at the rate of one metre a year, meaning it would take tens of thousands of years to cool it completely.
And still, there wouldn’t be a guarantee it would be successful for at least hundreds or possibly thousands of years.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
July 18th, 2018