The Yellowstone super volcano is super big

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Photo of the geothermal features of Yellowstone. Via Flickr by Kevin Saff/ CreativeCommons

Photo of the geothermal features of Yellowstone. Via Flickr by Kevin Saff/ CreativeCommons

“Even more colossal” is the way University of Utah researchers now describe the Yellowstone super volcano, which lies under the  Wyoming’s northwest corner, after discovering that it is over twice as big as originally thought.

The newest study of the volcano revealed the underground magma chamber is actually 55 miles long, 20 miles wide, and reaches depths of up to 9 miles below the surface. An eruption, naturally, would have catastrophic consequences across the entire continent.

Though this revelation might sound frightening, the size doesn’t increase the likelihood of an eruption. And though some geologists postulate that it is due for an eruption in the next 60,000 years or so, the evidence is based on a mere three previous eruptions in the planet’s history.

The underground lake of lava is responsible for Yellowstone’s famous hot springs and geysers, which attract millions of visitors every year. The team will present their findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week.