Supervolcano forming under the Pacific could wipe out life
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Using the highest-resolution method yet to make seismic images of the core-mantle boundary, Thorne and colleagues found evidence the pile under the Pacific actually is the result of an ongoing collision between two or more piles.
Where they are merging is a spongy blob of partly molten rock the size of Florida, Wisconsin or Missouri beneath the volcanically active Samoan hotspot.
The study's computer simulations "show that when these piles merge together, they may trigger the earliest stages of a massive plume eruption," Thorne said.