Scientists warn that volcanic super-eruption will catch us off guard and we won’t be prepared for the catastrophic event.
Experts state that we would only have about one year warning if a mega volcano were to erupt catastrophically, putting all life on Earth at risk.
New research shows that although the volcano would need to be building up for tens of thousands of years, as magma becomes packed beneath the surface slowly building pressure, we would only have a year’s notice.
Guilherme Gualda, associate professor of earth and environment sciences at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the study published in PLOS One, said: “The evolution of a giant, super-eruption-feeding magma body is characterised by events taking place at a variety of time scales.
“Now we have shown that the onset of the process of decompression, which releases the gas bubbles that power the eruption, starts less than a year before eruption.”
Scientists predict that a life-threatening eruption in the future is inevitable, with the USA’s Yellowstone volcano among the top candidates to blow.
However, the frightening realisation that we would only have a year to prepare would mean that nothing short of a miracle would be required to save us.
Mr Gualda and his co-author Stephen Sutton, of the University of Chicago, analysed dozens of small quartz crystals from a huge volcanic eruption that took place 760,000 years ago in California.
The quartz crystals form at the top of super-volcanoes which allowed the researchers to measure the surface rings at the mouth of a volcano to see how long it took a super-eruption to build.
Their analysis revealed that 70 per cent of rim growth takes place in less than a year before the eruption.
In their paper, they highlight Yellowstone, the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand and Campi Flegrei in Italy.
Mr Gualda added: “As far as we can determine, none of these places currently house the type of melt-rich, giant magma body needed to produce a super-eruption.
“However, they are places where super-eruptions have happened in the past so are more likely to happen in the future.”