The discovery of the new as yet unnamed volcano is announced in the Nov. 17 advanced online issue of Nature Geoscience.
Even if it erupts it is unlikely to penetrate the ice all the way to the surface. But it will melt a lot of ice.
The scientists calculated that an enormous eruption, one that released a thousand times more energy than the typical eruption, would be necessary to breach the ice above the volcano.
On the other hand a subglacial eruption and the accompanying heat flow will melt a lot of ice. "The volcano will create millions of gallons of water beneath the iceómany lakes full," says Wiens. This water will rush beneath the ice towards the sea and feed into the hydrological catchment of the MacAyeal Ice Stream, one of several major ice streams draining ice from Marie Byrd Land into the Ross Ice Shelf.
By lubricating the bedrock, it will speed the flow of the overlying ice, perhaps increasing the rate of ice-mass loss in West Antarctica.
A really big volcanic eruption would make our futures much bleaker and, in the extreme, much shorter. I do not want the challenge of having to survive a Toba level of volcanic eruption or even an 1815 Tambora level of eruption.
What I wonder: could a massive eruption in Antarctica cause both a massive global cooling and a large rise in sea levels at the same time?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2013 November 19 09:06 PM|