Are you frustrated that your favorite team seems to always lose to the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots or Boston Red Sox? Help may be coming, if you can wait a few years.
“The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England.”
That’s right. Seismologists report that a volcano is building up under the northeastern United States -- Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Vadim Levin, a geophysicist and professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences of Rutgers University, led the research and co-authored the paper published this week in the journal Geology. He and his team used data collected by the EarthScope program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) which has deployed thousands of seismic, GPS and other geophysical instruments across North America to monitor the forces behind volcanoes and earthquakes. That data shows that the area, particularly under central Vermont and western New Hampshire, has a force to be reckoned with.
“It is not Yellowstone (National Park)-like, but it’s a distant relative in the sense that something relatively small – no more than a couple hundred miles across – is happening.”
Gee, Professor Levin. If you don’t want us to worry, you shouldn’t be bringing up Yellowstone and its current upsurge in earthquakes. That kind of comparison can give one an upwelling in the throat.
The Rutgers press release says the team focused on New England because previous measurements showed its right above an area of comparative warming (hundreds of degrees Celsius warmer than neighboring areas) in the upper mantle. What were they looking for now?
“We’re interested in what happens at the interface between tectonic plates – thick, solid parts that cover our planet – and material in the upper mantle beneath the plates. We want to see how North America is gliding over the deeper parts of our planet. It is a very large and relatively stable region, but we found an irregular pattern with rather abrupt changes in it.”
“An irregular pattern with rather abrupt changes in it.” That’s not something you want to hear from your family doctor about a mole … or from your friendly neighborhood volcano researcher. Not only that, Levin points out that the last intense geologic activity in this area was 200 million years ago, so it’s overdue for a return. He says the data the team collected points to “a much more dynamic regime underneath this old, geologically quiet area.”
NOW do you feel an upwelling, especially if you live in Burlington or Montpelier? Is there enough time to pack up your maple syrup and head for Florida?
“It will likely take millions of years for the upwelling to get where it’s going. The next step is to try to understand how exactly it’s happening.”
That’s a relief … except this forecast came from the same guy who says he found that “irregular pattern with rather abrupt changes in it.” Like the doc said about your mole, better keep an eye on it anyway.