an example for a supervolcano is the Yellowstone
Caldera , which is predicted to spit out 1000 cubed kilometers
of lava and ash.
according to the "Toba
catastrophe theory" , the last sopervolcano eruption which was
about 75,000 years ago, caused a global volcanic winter for a few
years, so there was no sunlight for plants, so there was no food and
this killed almost all the humans in the world! so you understand
that in a supervolcano the volume is 1,000 bigger than a normal
volcano, but the damage is much much worse.
A SOLUTION THAT DOESN'T WORK
the best idea so far how to solve this came from NASA, they want to
cool the magma chamber by drilling deep vertical holes into the
ground near the magma chamber (the heat "engine" of the
supervolcano) and pumping water in and out (in a closed circuit).
the water goes down in the rock tunnel that acts like a pipe in a
radiator. the tunnel passes next to the steaming magma chamber, the
water heats up and by doing this takes a little of the magma's heat,
so eventually the magma will cool down. the water goes up to the
surface where the steam is used to rotate turbines to make
NASA’s $3.5 Billion Idea To Save Earth From A Supervolcano
Apocalypse (in the youtube of Tech Insider)
this solution would have been ideal because it prevents the eruption
in the first place, and it gives us clean green energy, but it can't
work because it has 2 problems:
(1) dangerous: if the hot lava inside will touch the water there
this will produce so much steam gas (which occupies a lot more
volume than liquid water) that the magma chamber wall will explode,
and by this you can trigger a supervolcano eruption.
(2) slow: if everything works fine the process is so slow that they
calculated it would take 1,000 years until you can cool the magma to
a safe level in this way.
A SOLUTION THAT WORKS
my solution borrows it's name from a classic chemistry demonstration
, this is what our final "product" will look like, but on a
gargantuan scale. of course in our case we don't need to supply the
hot gas that is ejected here, because the volcano ejects the
material, we just need to find a way to contain it.
Pharaoh's Serpent Demonstration by NileRed (i heartily recommend
that you turn off the volume, he chose terrible music for this
so how do we contain and lock inside "cells" such a huge amount of
lava (molten rock) and vulcanic ash (which like glass) and gas
my first thought was epoxy resin. this is because resin plus glass
creates fiberglass which is very strong. but the problem with this
is that the epoxy resin doesn't glue in high temperature.
other kinds of materials are heat resistant, but don't have the
other required properties to make the "cells" of the snake. ceramics
are not flexible, and metals are expansive. they are also heavy so
we can't take a very large amount of them by airplanes and drop them
from above. if we just lay down the material on the ground it might
burn because then the material comes in touch with the extremely hot
lava before it had a chance to cool down.
the most practical material to use for suffocating the eruption is
what we have in abundance there - the very same material that the
volcano is spitting out. i am saying suffocating in a very physical
sense, because if the weight falls back down instead of being shot
to the sides in parabolas, after some time the force of pressure
from above (total weight of snake) will be equal to the force of
pressure from below (pressure left in magma chamber) and the
eruption will stop. the thing which stops the eruption from
happening right now is that the weight of the rock above the magma
chamber is pressing on it and right now it's stronger than the force
of the magma.
but how do we "convince" the lava not to be shot to all sides and
instead to stay in that area and fall back onto the supervolcano? we
use a positive feedback loop (like a "snowball effect") by impacting
the smallest pieces the tiny rocks, which if we can stop them will
together slow down and eventually stop (on average) the small rocks,
which stop the bigger and bigger rocks and so on.
HOW DO WE STOP THE VOLCANIC ASH?
we use a material that is produced exactly in this conditions of
heat plus sulfur gas - volcanized rubber. rubber is light so it can
be dumped from airplanes, and meet the ejected gasses in such a
height in the atmosphre that they cooled down to the necessary
temperature not to destroy the rubber.
(by the way: vulcanized rubber was developed by Charles Goodyear and
the tire company is named after him)
Vulcanization of Rubber | 12th Std | Chemistry | Science | CBSE
Board | Home Revise
then when it comes down it's like a gentle net or mesh of fiberglass
which holds some of the little bigger particles and they in turn
create a little stronger net or mesh that catches bigger particles
and so on.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE LIQUID RUBBER TOUCHES THE GAS?
first of all it can't "fall to the side" because unlike a normal
volcano, the supervolcano ejects material in a very wide surface. so
if the blob of rubber misses one rising patch of sulfur gas it
simiply hits another one on the long way down from the height of an
airplane to the ground.
we already talked about why it doesn't burn - because by the time
the sulfur gets to the high elevation it cools down, both by
occupying more space (like an air conditioner cools) and also by the
cold air in heights, the higher you go the colder it gets.
what about turbulence?
there are definitly a lot of eddy currents in the gas that arrives.
it's not like an "air
hockey" table with orderly uniform holes that blow air. the
way i imagine it, and forgive my disgusting imagery is the latin
vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
[a] wise man does not urinate [up] against the wind
which is a latin
phrase meaning don't go against the conventional wisdom
(prevailing opinion). but here i will consider it very literally. if
you have an ununiform current of air blowing, and you throw drops of
pee into it, as you might imagine it all (or most of it anyway)
comes back at you. so this also answers the question what happens
when drops of liquid meet a turbulent gas. it's not "lost".
what i think will happen is that small bands of rubber will form,
imagine it like a rubber band that you use in the office, that you
cut with scissors so instead of a closed circle they are a curved
thin line. so we have many lines like this between the hot ash
particles and this all sticks together forming a substance like
flexible fiberglass (rubber is like resin but more durable to the
heat). the turbulence works in our favor to provide the mixing so as
much surface area of the rubber is coming into contact with the gas
and volcanic ash.
here is a video where we learn that raindrops actually are not in
the teardrop shape, but instead they form a parachute shape (after
they reach terminal velocity) which for our purpose is great because
they catch more ash this way like a bag. remember the rubber is more
viscous than the water so i guess it can form larger parachutes.
What Do Raindrops Really Look Like?
It's Okay To Be Smart (i think the name of this YouTube channel says
a lot about our times - not good things).
ACTIVE DEPLOYMENT - CONTINUOUS AIRBORNE ALERT OF RUBBER BOMBERS
let's see first what we can NOT do:
we CAN'T scale up the toy "weapon" from childhood (see in this link
the photo titles "The Disintegrator" which is a rotary gun version)
but in our case we fill them with liquid rubber. for ease of storage
we can pack it in rubber bags and only slice the bag open when it's
deployed over the target.
my suggestion is that we will maintain a continuous airborne alert
like in "Operation Chrome Dome" when American bombers where flying
all the time with hydrogen bombs ready to drop on the Soviet Union.
as you can read at the end it interrupted an airplane that was 11
of course the airplanes should try to reach the ash from upwind, and
try to use the momentum of the rubber "package" to gain safe
distance (the rubber will keep the original trajectory until it hits
but still, what can we do if we missed our first chance to contain
we need to use what's already there to do thee job for us. since gas
is lighter than liquid and solid, i assume what will get out first
from the volcano is the very hot and corrosive volcanic gas.
so if we can catch it and ride on it, we could prepare in advance
closed (and heat insulated) parcels of rubber, that will be lifted
by the up going currents of sulfur gas and then we need to plan how
at the right moment the parcels will open and rain rubber.
what is the toughest fabric we can use for the sail?
the first gush of air is very strong and sudden (like drogue
parachute), but after words we need the "blanket" that is spread on
the ground at first (for maximizing the chance of catching the gas
eruption), to take the shape of a hot air balloon (like a bag or
parachute) so that the hot gas will not escape.
so i think the most logical shape (from symmetry considerations)
would be sphere made of a lightweight but strong material, tied
underneath a blanket from the toughest material we can get which
covers it and is spread on the ground. the ideal shape of the
blanket will be a sphere, but we need this tiles to cover the whole
area (to minimize the chance that the "geyser" of sulfur will erupt
between the blankets), so i recommend hexagonal shaped blankets with
small weights tied along the perimeter so that the blanket will
later take the shape of a sail or a balloon.
the sphere capsule can be made of aluminum which is strong and light
metal. i think it can be designed to explode once it reaches a
certain optimal altitude, using the pressure change of the air
inside and outside (on the ground we have one atmosphere of
pressure, in 10 kilometers we have less than 30 percent of that. we
need to consider the expansion of the air inside the capsule in the
beginning caused by the thermal expansion of the air from the heat
of the gassed coming out of the volcano. so instead of ordinary air
we can use in the capsule a noble gas that wouldn't expand so much
from the heat (like argon, krypton, xenon and so on).
to insulate the hard protective shield (heat conducting aluminum)
from the sensitive to heat cargo (liquid rubber) i suggest the
capsule will be a sphere within a sphere. the rubber will be inside
the inner sphere, and between the two spheres we use a material
which insulates heat in high temperatures.
so i think since we want between the inner sphere and the outer
sphere both components - the insulating aerogel and the popping gas
- we should make room for both of them. for example blocks of
aerogel evenly spaced all around and between them space for the
noble gas. so the inner sphere "stands" on the aerogel blocks, but
the inner sphere is still surrounded evenly on all sides by the