EARTH: Setting off a supervolcano

January 19, 2012

Alexandria, VA - Supervolcanoes are one of nature's most destructive forces. In a matter of hours, an eruption from a supervolcano can force thousands of cubic meters of molten rock above ground, and scar landscapes with massive calderas and craters. These catastrophic eruptions have a global impact, and yet scientists still do not fully understand them. Today, a team of scientists studying Bolivia's Uturuncu volcano is trying to shed some light on how supervolcanoes can become so powerful.

Uturuncu, nestled within one of the largest collections of supervolcano calderas on Earth, isn't simply getting larger: it is the fastest growing volcano on the planet. Since monitoring began in the 1980s, the magma chamber has been steadily increasing at a rate of one centimeter per year. Could Uturuncu be the next supervolcano? And will any of us be alive to see this magnificent volcano come to a catastrophic end? Find out at
Read this story and more in the January issue of EARTH Magazine, available online now at Learn about the astronomy under the ice; travel to Utah to take in some of the most dramatic geologic scenery in the world; and, read about how inland waters are releasing much more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 50 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

American Geosciences Institute

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