Possible Ways to Defend Civilization from Supervolcanic Eruptions

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Volcanic eruption
Eruption of Cleveland Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska as photographed by an Expedition 13 crewmember on the International Space Station.

A team of volcanologists, planetary scientists and engineers was assembled at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in 2015 to conduct a theoretical, preliminary study to examine if it is possible using current human technology to prevent a supervolcano from erupting. The work was conducted using internal JPL Research and Technology Development funds. The study concludes that it probably is possible, but over a timescale longer than a human lifetime, and that there are potential substantial risks to the approach that would require further studies. However, many technologies available now could be put into place to help mitigate the effects of an eruption. The study also concludes that such an effort might be self-funding, as these technologies may potentially generate electric power as they cool the supervolcano, which could be provided into the grid at competitive rates.


The study in its entirety can be downloaded here.