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Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially contained?

  1. May 6, 2009 #1
    Take Yellowstone for example, we do not know when it will erupt again, but we know sometime in the future that it will. We theorize that its driven from a stationary hotspot system which remains stationary as the Earth's upper crust continually slides over it until a weak spot or a spot of the right construct enables the hotspot to once again erupt. We can observe the size of its previous erruptions to have an idea of what size its eruption could be the next time it goes off. We also know that the eruption will either be violent that gushes upwards into the sky (most predicted), or a gentle spewing out of lava (not expected). When it comes to volcanos erupting the ash cloud reaching into the stratosphere tends to do as much and usually more harm than the actual lava. But the thing about volcanos is, volcanos and volcanic hot spots are dead give aways as to where they shall be occuring, and they tend to heat up and show activity before going off.

    I would think that it would be possible to place some sort of domed barrier over a volcano before it errupts to limit its harm to the planet. Even if lava punches holes through it, I would still imagine that a good percent of its environmental damage could be somewhat maintianed. I would also assume that full dome coverage wouldn't be required to limmit the damage, but rather a partial dome structure would perform almost as well. Not sure the materials that would work or be needed, or how transportable it would be, but I could forsee the use of such an protection program... volcano becomes active, helecopter over and place down a splatter shielding system.

    Thoughts on this... is it a good idea or not, could something like this work, and how could it be achieveable?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2009 #2

    matthyaouw

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    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    Think about the pressures involved here. These eruptions will blast through massive amounts of solid rock and send bits of rock several kilometers in to the atmosphere. What do you suppose we could put over it that would have anything but the most negligable effect on it?
     
  4. May 6, 2009 #3
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    Every eruption I've ever seen displayed on television can be imagined to be contained quite well with a big old plastic bag over it, although lava would scortch through such a covering its doubtfull that lava will travel soo high as compared to ash, since ash is lighter it does not take as much effort to contain (kind of like billowing smoke), so I'd image that if there were some sort of a huge spongy sack like covering over such a volcano, even if the volcano poked holes through the covering, most of the ash could be filtered out before it reached the stratosphere and spread over the world, might not be able to catch everything but I'd imagine you could catch a lot, the larger the covering the more that should be catchabe, so am wondering if you could inflate something similar to how you would a balloon, not worry so much about any holes, and when it punctues, it would hopefully collapse down to still catch most of the ash... as such, something spongy might work well, otherwised something laticed with spongy materials where holes can be punched through without collapsing it, or at least not much
     
  5. May 7, 2009 #4
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    or maybe just release the pressure before it becomes catastrophic.
     
  6. May 7, 2009 #5
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    I don't think there is a way to release the pressure, from what I've seen hot spots are stable, plate techtonics move the crust over the mantle and when a week enough spot or a spot constructed of whatever composition is sufficient for an eruption an eruption occurs. Methods to relieve the pressure would likely make eruptions worse, rather than deterring or limmiting them.

    If we could catch/collect the ash and small debri before it has chance to scatter and do its harm, then I think we could limit environmental damage caused by super volcanos.
     
  7. May 9, 2009 #6
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    There is no realistic way to contain these eruptions. Pyroclastic emissions turn people into charcoal. About 1000°C. They're unpredictable, so you'd have to preemptively "cap" thousands of active volcanoes that are close to high population areas. They can spread faster than wildfires. Hundreds to thousands of cubic kilometers of hot ash. There are usually ballistic ejecta (lapilli, blocks, bombs) that would tear through any covering. And all of this is for the average volcano. As far as a super volcano, you're not putting anything over Yellowstone to stop it; it has an area of 9000 km².

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvG_N7eqMWk&NR=1

    In these regions it's important to prepare and have access to cover and supplies. Simple precautions can be effective enough to save most lives. Super volcanoes? Eh, don't waste time on it.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
  8. May 9, 2009 #7
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    As I posted in another thread, we could evacuate the United States and then let a small asteroid crash into Yellowstone. This would trigger a premature eruption. If we build up enough food reserves to feed the Earth's population for a few decades, we can deal with the climate change due to the eruption.
     
  9. May 9, 2009 #8
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    Count Iblis... not only is that idea implausible from the standpoint of getting a sizeable asteroid to land where you want it on Earth, but that would likely make things much worse and doesn't address the reason why Yellowstone erupts in the first place. Yellowstone sits above an active hot spot that remains fixed while the upper crust slowly moves over it through plate techtonics, for all we know the problem isn't so much that the hot spot flares up as much as it is what the material composition of the crust is above the hot spot. In other words, the problem might not be solves simply by relieving pressure, you could tunnel, use laser technology, nuclear weapons, or any other such things to perhaps relieve pressure, but will any of that stop such an erruption or even make things any better? Ash placed into the stratosphere tends to be the major environmental killer of the major erruptions, and I would think that there would some way to somehow limit such damage, and that is what I am trying to ask here.
     
  10. May 9, 2009 #9
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    Well, if we know for sure that Yellowstone will erupt within, say, 500 years and there is nothing we can do to stop it from erupting, triggering a premature eruption would help. If we did nothing we would perhaps only have a few months warning before we know for sure that the thing is going to erupt on the short term. We wouldn't have enough time to prepare ourselves from the effects of the eruption.

    The total damage dome to the environment is not so important. Even if we make the effects on the environment worse but in return we get a specific date when it is going to happen, we can deal with it.
     
  11. May 9, 2009 #10
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    If the eruption were within half a millenium, why would triggering it prematurely help?
     
  12. Jun 22, 2011 #11
    Re: Can the future eruptions of volcanos (super volcanos) be fully/partially containe

    I seem to recall the caldera cap over Yellowstone typically rises (in the area of the lake) until it blows. If it was possible to release the pressure - wouldn't that cause the cap to implode and trigger a release?
     
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