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Ancient "Supervolcano" Rocked Washington State

Earth/Science News: Washington State, USA
Photo: Mount Baker, an active volcano in northwestern Washington State, sits about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from where an ancient "supervolcano" rocked the region millions of years ago, new research shows.

Feb 06, 2007
An ancient "supervolcano" in what is now Washington State spewed steam and billowed ash in amounts that dwarf the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, new research shows. The blow-up occurred in two major bursts about 3.7 million years ago in the northern Cascade Range, creating flows of searing-hot gas and belching out some 33 cubic miles (137 cubic kilometers) of ash. The newly discovered mega-eruption brings to six the tally of ancient volcanoes known to have blown in the Cascades. The blasts would have killed all life for several miles around and dumped ash over a vast area downwind. "These are big eruptions — on the small end of what have been called supervolcanoes. If something went off like that today, a long way into British Columbia would be severely impacted." If it happened in the southern end of the Cascades in Oregon, "thick ash would probably fall in the Midwest."

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