Scientists have known for decades that hidden under those impressive vistas at sites such as Death Valley and Yellowstone National Park are magma pools that under the right conditions can trigger explosive eruptions.
Now, new research is changing scientists’ understanding of the timing of those eruptions, and prompting them to call for greater monitoring of sites to help save lives when the next big volcano explodes.
Two recent papers highlight the shift. One looked at a Death Valley volcano thought to be 10,000 years old and found it last erupted just 800 years ago, and is still an eruption danger. The other found that large caldera volcanoes, such as the one under Crater Lake in Oregon, can recharge in a matter of decades, rather than the thousands of years previously thought.