Mother Nature can be absolutely terrifying.
Below the western states of the United States, lies a lake of molten carbon that is as big as Mexico. Looming at 350km below the earth’s surface lies 1.8 million sq kilometers worth of space inhabited by 100 trillion metric tonnes of carbon underneath.
That’s a substantial amount.
So what is molten carbon, anyway? The video playing above should fill in any blanks.
They’re high temperature fuel cells that are over 1112 degrees fahrenheit (600 degrees celsius).
It’s also full of carbon dioxide – just one percent of the CO2 stored would be the same as burning over 2 trillion barrels of oil! It would be the biggest natural disaster of all time – and cause damage as big as a nuclear explosion.
The deep carbon will make its way slowly to the surface over the next billion years – which will cause some climate change – but a sudden explosion could be a killer.
Dr Sash Hier-Majumder of the University of London’s Department of Earth Sciences told Mail Online: “The residence time of this carbon in the mantle is relatively large (nearly 1 billion years), so this reserve is not an imminent threat.
“But one important mechanism by which carbon, sinking into the mantle via a subducting oceanic plate, can make its way back to the surface is by arc volcanism.
“Arc volcanism returns between 30-40 per cent of the total subducted carbon back into the atmosphere. The remaining carbon stays in the mantle for a much longer.”
So basically, we should be afraid of volcanos. Remember the film Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche? It was awful – on a number of levels. Don’t want to relive any part of that scenario.
In the middle of the area that has the molten carbon is Yellowstone National Park – which is a pretty dangerous place and has a volcano.
The volcano at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana sits atop a huge reserve of molten rock and last erupted 640,000 years ago.
It releases around 45,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each day.
It hasn’t been active for 70,000 years but if it did explode, it would be similar to a “nuclear winter”. Think Pompeii – but all of North America.
It’s been just over a year since a twenty-three-year old man dissolved in The Grand Prismatic Spring and I still haven’t gotten over it. The Spring itself is beautiful and colourful like a rainbow – and off limits. He was with his sister who was filming him. As he checked to see how hot the water was, he slipped and fell in.
When they tried to retrieve him the next day – all that was left was his flip flops.
But he’s not the only person who thought the signs saying it was dangerous were optional. In Iceland last year, Ed Sheeran wandered off the path when he wasn’t supposed to and slipped into an acid pool, burning the skin off his foot! When he tried to take his shoe off, all the skin came off too.