But scientists at NASA have sketched the rough outlines of a plan that they say would not only spare us from a deadly super-eruption but also turn the Yellowstone supervolcano into a source of electric power. In a write-up of the plan first shared with the BBC, the team argues that we could siphon heat from the caldera until it becomes too cool to erupt — and convert the geothermal energy into electricity.
“The primary objective…is to gradually defang Yellowstone as a threat to humanity,” says Dr. Brian Wilcox, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
That’s a noble goal, but could the team’s provocative ideas really work? “It’s pie in the sky right now,” says Dr. Charles Connor, a volcanologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa, “but it’s a great trajectory to think about.”