What is the size of Mexico and lurks about 200 miles beneath the surface of our Western states? Scientists can hardly believe it.
There is a massive lake of molten carbon underneath the western portion of the United States. According to Forbes, using the “largest array of seismic sensors in the world”, scientists have discovered “217 miles beneath the surface of the Earth” a lake of molten carbon which covers “approximately 700,000 square miles.”
How did this get there in the first place? According to reports, the lake is a result of “the Pacific Plate subducting underneath the North American Plate. As the Pacific Plate subducts, it experiences increasingly high pressures and temperatures. This, combined with the presence of gasses…and water locked away in the rock, allows for partial melting of the plate.”
What exactly does this mean? Are we in danger? Scientists believe this recent discovery “could drastically and immediately change the global climate for over a decade if it were to be released.” But they do not believe this will happen any time soon. However:
The molten carbonate sits beneath Yellowstone National Park, which in and of itself is a super volcano with the power of a massive eruption. The last major eruption was 640,000 years ago at Yellowstone, however if the super volcano did erupt it could cause the US to go into a nuclear winter. The eruption, when it does occur, would be on the order of 1,000 times more powerful than the 1980’s Mount St. Helens eruption.
What does this mean for scientists? They now have more accurate stats on how much carbon is in the Earth’s upper mantle–close to 100 trillion metric tons of carbon. “To put this into perspective, the US EPA estimated that in total 10 billion metric tons of carbon was emitted in 2011, or approximately 0.01% of the carbon sitting in Earth’s mantle. Thankfully the release of the mantle’s carbon happens very slowly over time primarily through volcanic eruptions.”
To put it in terms that a non-scientist would understand, if just 1 percent of the mantle’s carbon is released that equals “burning 2.3 trillion barrels of oil.”