Yellowstone’s famous super-volcano is like a ticking time bomb, and while the chances of it erupting this year are about one-in-730,000, there is still a chance that it might one day have a massive eruption. The eruption would have a devastating impact on our economy, not to mention kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, mainly through starvation. Since scientists do not yet have methods to predict exactly when the volcano will erupt, the best course of action as of right now is to prepare for the worst.
However, NASA has devised a plan to prevent the worst. The plan involves drilling into the volcano’s magma chamber and cooling it down. Since magma can only erupt when it is sufficiently molten, cooling it down by around 35 percent would make it somewhat solid and thus prevent the process of eruption.
In fact, scientists in Iceland are already using a similar drilling method on the country’s magma chambers to generate clean energy.
NASA’s drill would not penetrate the magma itself, as this would risk actually causing an eruption. Rather, it will sit a short distance above the chamber (around 6.2 miles underground), where it will add more water in order to greatly speed up the cooling process.
If approved, the plan will cost around $3.5 billion. Sounds like a fair price to save the planet, especially considering that the heat extracted from the chamber could be used to power part of America’s electrical grid.