Super-volcanoes may go from zero to apocalypse in only a few centuries.

Earlier estimates thought that it could take 100,000 to 300,000 years for the magma pools that erupt into super-volcanoes to form, so no one was particularly worried about a super-eruption in the near future. But a new study by Vanderbilt University Earth scientists suggests the world-shattering volcanoes form in less than 10,000 and possibly as few as 500 years.

“The fact that the process of magma body formation occurs in historical time, instead of geological time, completely changes the nature of the problem,” said Gualda.

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Using quartz crystals formed during an eruption in central California 760,000 years ago, lead researcher Guilherme Gualda found that super-volcanoes could be an even greater threat, since not only are they unstoppable, they form rapidly, which means geologists must be on the lookout for pending eruptions in places like Yellowstone National Park and Southeast Asia.

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The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, the result of a massive flood of lava. (Mozillaman, Wikimedia Commons)