A lot of media attention has recently been given to speculations about the “new super-volcano”, Uturuncu, a dormant strato-volcano in SW Bolivia, where signs of unrest have been detected by deformation and seismic measurements.
Uturuncu is no ordinary volcano. If erupted this volcano could produce an eruption of ash, rock and pumice 1,000 times the strength of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State, the worst volcanic event in modern American history, and 10,000 times that of the Icelandic eruptions in 2010 that paralyzed global air traffic for weeks. So make no mistake if this super volcano erupts..its all over. The worst thing is that it has increased its activity lately in a constant behavior.
“The size and longevity of the uplift is unprecedented,” said Shanaka de Silva, a geologist at Oregon State University who has been studying Uturuncu since 2006.
Bolivia’s Uturuncu volcano is the fastest-growing volcano on Earth.
About Uturuncu, he said that while “its rise over 20 years is certainly significant,” there wasn’t enough evidence to call it a super-volcano in the making.
Other researchers agree. But they say Uturuncu’s steady inflation makes it fertile ground for study. “It’s like a tumor growing within the earth,” Dr. de Silva said, “and we have to understand whether it is benign or malignant.”
But there are facts supporting a near eruption. Persistent seismic activity adds to indications of a possible future awakening of the volcano, which has last erupted 270,000 years ago. The study revealed that there are on average 2.6 earthquakes per hour, with a maximum of 14 per hour, recorded at about 4 km depth below the center of the uplift, 4 km SW of the volcano’s summit.
In their paper, Sparks et al (2008) write: “The current unrest, together with geophysical anomalies and 270 ka of dormancy, indicate that the magmatic system is in a prolonged period of intrusion. Such circumstances might eventually lead to eruption of large volumes of intruded magma with potential for caldera formation.”
“Uturuncu is also recently explained in the new movie “Salt and Fire by Werner Herzog” A scientist blames the head of a large company for an ecological disaster in South America. But when Uturuncu volcano begins to show signs of erupting, they must unite to avoid a disaster. Shot in Bolivia, the film stars Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres.”