If the study authors’ suspicions are right, the newly discovered volcanic caldera would be similar volcanic classification as the Yellow Caldera.

Scientists presenting their study findings on December 7 at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2020 said a small group of volcanic islands in the Aleutian chain of Alaska might be part of a single, undiscovered giant volcano.

If the study authors’ suspicions are right, the newly discovered volcanic caldera would belong to a similar volcanic classification as the Yellow Caldera. The other volcanoes have had the so-called “super-eruptions” with serious worldwide consequences.

Forbes recently reported the Islands of Four Mountains located in the central Aleutians is a tight group of six stratovolcanoes, namely “Carlisle, Cleveland, Herbert, Kagamil, Tana, and Uliaga.”

Stratovolcanoes can have powerful eruptions such as Mount St. Helens in 1980, although these are said to have dwarfed by less often eruptions that form a caldera.

Pieces of Evidence from Mount Cleveland Study

Study authors from various institutions and disciplines have been investigating Mount Cleveland, the group’s most active volcano, attempting to understand the Islands of the Four Mountains’ nature.

The researchers have collected multiple pieces of evidence showing that the islands could be part of the interconnected caldera.

Unlike stratovolcanoes, which tend to tap small-to-modestly-sized magma reservoirs, a caldera is created by tapping a large tank in the crust of the Earth.

When the reservoir’s pressure goes beyond the crust’s strength, large amounts of lava and ash are emitted in an eruption’s catastrophic episode.

Essentially, caldera-building eruptions are the most explosive eruptions of a volcano on Earth, and they frequently have had worldwide impacts.

The Caldera Hypothesis

According to Washington DC-based Carnegie Institution of Science’s Diana Roman, the proposed caldera that underlies the Island of the Four Mountains would even be huger than Okmok.

If verified, it would be a pioneer in the Aleutians hidden underwater. Citing the difficulty of investigating such a remote place, she said, they have been “crapping under the couch cushions for data.”

However, added Roman, everything they look at lines up with caldera in the said region. Despite all the signs, she explained, Roman, along with the study’s lead author and a researcher from US Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, John Power, claims that the caldera’s existence is not proven by any means.

To completely examine their hypothesis, the research team would need to go back to the islands and collect more direct evidence to examine their hypothesis.

Ash Clouds Emitted

Essentially, the said hypothesis might help explain, too, the often explosive activity observed in Mount Cleveland, explained Roman.

He specified that Mount Cleveland is “arguably the most active Volcano in North America” for roughly the last two decades. It has emitted ash clouds as “high as 15,000 and 30 feet above sea level.”

Such eruptions posture dangers to aircraft flying the busy air routes between Asia and North America. Power explained it does not potentially help the researchers understand what is making Cleveland very active.

Lastly, it can help scientists understand the type of eruptions too, in the future, and better get ready for the dangers they could bring.

Originally published at Science Times