NOV 30, 2017 11:12 AM PST

Volcanoes in New England?!

Volcanoes in New England?!

Not quite. A new study published in the journal Geology from Rutgers University researchers says that the gigantic mass of warm rock that they found spreading throughout central Vermont, western New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts isn’t likely to turn into any sort of volcanic eruption for millions of years. But their finding, which they’re calling an upwelling, may change the way that geologists have always thought about this corner of the world.

Will New England be joining the world's regions of volcanoes?

Utilizing information collected through EarthScope, an ambitious National Science Foundation database that gathers seismic measurements around the US, the scientists detected the warm area using seismic waves. Seismic waves refer to the vibrations that pass through the planet after an earthquake happens; they can help us understand the shapes of objects and changes in the state of materials because they change depending on what sort of substance they're traveling through. The team discovered the upwelling because the region is several hundred degrees Celsius hotter here than in the surrounding areas.

The term upwelling essentially means a mass of hot rock slowly rising through the Earth's surface. "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," said lead author Vadim Levin. "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."

This is a huge surprise for geologists, given that no seismic activity has happened in New England in over 200 million years. "Our study challenges the established notion of how the continents on which we live behave," Levin said. "It challenges the textbook concepts taught in introductory geology classes."

The White Mountain region in New Hampshire has long been considered geologically stable. Photo: Strange Sounds

Levin is referring to the wide-held belief that seismic activity usually takes place only where tectonic plates meet, not in the middle of plates. "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," Levin said. "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."

But don’t worry New Englanders, the authors say this upwelling is not a cause for alarm and it will likely take millions of years for it to change to affect those of us living on the planet’s surface.

Sources: Newsweek, Futurity, Science Daily, GeoScience World

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 28, 2021
Technology
Addressing The Environmental Impact Of Disposable Masks
JUL 28, 2021
Addressing The Environmental Impact Of Disposable Masks
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, mask wearing was a regular part of life as governments imposed mandates to help ...
JUL 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Using Iron Waste to Clean Pesticides
JUL 30, 2021
Using Iron Waste to Clean Pesticides
Groundwater is something most people use every day. Whether for drinking, washing, or growing the food you eat, it is pa ...
AUG 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Moon's Magnetism Comes from Impacting Comets, not Magnetic Shield
AUG 09, 2021
Moon's Magnetism Comes from Impacting Comets, not Magnetic Shield
Magnetization on the moon may come from impact events from objects like meteors instead of the presence of a magnetic sh ...
SEP 07, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Future of Flooding
SEP 07, 2021
The Future of Flooding
In the wake of recent flooding on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Ida, many people are wondering what the future ...
SEP 22, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
SEP 22, 2021
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) announced this month that their new magnet might be the breakthrough needed to make fu ...
OCT 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Fighting Back Against Harmful Algal Blooms
OCT 13, 2021
Fighting Back Against Harmful Algal Blooms
Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, are a common summertime nuisance for people that live near fresh or saltwater all over th ...
Loading Comments...