Asteroids? Maybe World War? Climate change? Or even aliens? Even if some of these apocalyptic messengers seem realistic, there are far greater dangers beneath the Earth that could bring an end to civilization – and little is known about it. According to Business Insider even NASA regards them as one of the greatest natural threats to humanity. What are they? – Super Volcanoes.
There is a huge magma reservoir in Yellowstone National Park that is responsible for all the geysers and hot pools in the park – and it is this reservoir that can destroy humanity.
About every 100,000 years, a supervolcano erupts somewhere in the world, with potentially fatal consequences. If a volcano erupted beneath Yellowstone National Park, it would cause hunger and volcanic winter (cooling of the atmosphere) around the world.
According to the UN estimates reported by The Guardian, an eruption could leave us with enough food reserves to survive for 74 days.
The hotter it becomes in a volcano, the more gas it produces. The magma continues to melt and the layer above the magma chamber begins to rise – and when the heat exceeds a certain threshold, an inevitable explosion occurs. So the logical solution would be to cool the supervolcano.
The cooling of a volcano requires a very large amount of water, which in theory should be placed in the volcano, but it is practically impossible to pour it into:
“Building a large aqueduct on a mountain would be a costly and difficult process, and people don’t want their water to be wasted this way,” Brian Wilkes of NASA’s jet engine laboratory told the BBC.
“People around the world are desperate for water, and so a large, controversial infrastructure project where the only use of water would be super-volcano cooling, would create hysteria.”
NASA has a plan:
Drill 10 kilometers deep in a super volcano and pump water under high pressure. This will slowly lower the temperature each day.
First of all, it is important to drill on the sides of the volcano rather than directly into the magma reservoir, as drilling in the center could even accelerate the eruption of the volcano. It is also significant that the alternative plan comes with a hefty price tag: $ 3.46 billion.
Considering the benefits – for example, that we could prevent the end of mankind in the long run – it seems to be a worthwhile measure.
There is one other advantage to this plan: “Such a well could be used to build a geothermal power station that produces electricity at extremely competitive prices, about $ 0.10 / kWh.”
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Relevant geothermal companies would need an incentive to drill deeper and use hotter water than usual, but the idea is to pay back the initial investment and get electricity for the surrounding power supply, perhaps for tens of thousands of years.
NASA warns that “The Yellowstone Super Volcano explodes about every 600,000 years and about 600,000 years have passed since its last explosion. That should make us pay attention to it.”