Brigham Young University geologists discovered what might be the largest super volcano in the world in Utah’s backyard.
While a variety of different volcanoes blast away in many ways, eruption of super volcanoes are the world’s biggest and in turn collapse to form large calderas. One of those large calderas is Yellowstone National Park that has volcanic tendencies still taking place.
However, geologists believe they might have located a super volcano that is equal or bigger, one that shook the western part of Utah and eastern part of Nevada over 30 million years ago.
That eruption is nearly invisible to the naked eye today, but underneath and in other formations, the evidence is just waiting to be unearthed.
The BYU geologists say that the eruption of Wah Wah Springs is the largest explosive eruption known. The volcanic eruption and subsequent collapse of that super volcano released more than 6,000 square kilometers of magma. The magma move over a landscape that was flat covering more than 12,000 miles in eastern Nevada and western Utah.
Myron Best an Emeritus geology professor at BYU said the devastation would have been next to unimaginable.
The flow of the magma extended to beyond Panguitch and north nearly to Delta and south near St. George. Ash that would have been captured by the jet stream would have been carried all the way to Nebraska.
Compared to the explosion on Mt. St Helens, which is not the same type of volcano, the super volcano in Utah was 5,000 times bigger. Deposits that the volcano left behind in Utah from the one eruption are over 13,000 feet thick.
Rock samples in the thousands collected during a period of 30 years are inside a BYU repository with drawers from floor to ceiling. Over 600 students, more than 30 summers of work in the field and lots of geologic analysis and mapping were used to confirm the super volcano’s existence in Utah.
However, unlike the still active Yellowstone volcano, the Nevada and Utah shared super volcano will likely never erupt again according to BYU geologists.