Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Drain Yellowstone caldera

Dig a tunnel and drain lava with it
  [vote for,

The geological history of the Yellowstone caldera shows within an order of magnitude how severe a volcanic eruption will be and therefore what is needed to contain it.

I propose a series of miles-thick tunnels be built to funnel lava and gasses from the caldera toward unpopulated areas nearby. Upon completion pressure would be relieved above the caldera in just the right spots such that a premature, less severe eruption would occur and the lava and gasses would vent along the tunnels.
Voice, Mar 25 2013

It's been thought of. http://volcanoes.us...ne_sub_page_50.html
Look at the bottom question. [MechE, Mar 28 2013]


       When I crudely extrapolate the numbers, that seems to mean bang go soon. Did you have an unpopulated area in mind?
normzone, Mar 25 2013

       Well, Yellowstone springs to mind. Not a whole lot of populous 'round there.
Alterother, Mar 25 2013

       //WP: //The three super eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago////   

       WP: //The U.S. Geological Survey, University of Utah and National Park Service scientists with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintain that they "see no evidence that another such cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. Recurrence intervals of these events are neither regular nor predictable."//
DIYMatt, Mar 25 2013

       //Recurrence intervals of these events are neither regular nor predictable."//   

theircompetitor, Mar 25 2013

       Why don't we just wait another 15-20 million years and then it will be Canada's problem. If past motion of the hotspot continues, it looks like it might end up just a wee bit west of Winnipeg. Problem solved.
Klaatu, Mar 25 2013

       If we could communicate the idea of "wait 15-20 million years" to the caldera, then surely some Winnipeggers would immediately commence communicating "BOOM NOW! BOOM NOW!"
lurch, Mar 28 2013

       Um, if the caldera goes now, most likely so does Winnipeg. Along with pretty much the entire US west of the Mississippi and east of the Sierra Nevada.
MechE, Mar 28 2013

       Yes, so let's drill a hole into it already! Nothing relieves millions of years of built-up volcanic pressure like making a tiny little pinprick and letting it gently drain away.
Alterother, Mar 28 2013

       See the link I posted. They've thought about it.
MechE, Mar 28 2013

       If you could bring the lava to the right places, we could use it to build highways and airports and such. If you promise to pave over Rock Springs, Wyoming, I'll give you a croissant.
baconbrain, Mar 30 2013

       I wonder whether it would be feasible and/or (and/or orand) to build roads by fusing the existing geology.   

       The latent heat of fusion of silica (sand) is something like 200kJ/kg. If we assume that this is the main energy input (ie, that the heat needed to raise the sand to just below melting is relatively much less), and if we want a glass road 50cm thick, then a square metre of road will require us to melt about 1300kg of sand, needing 260MJ of energy.   

       Liquid fossil fuels give about 50MJ/litre, so it would take about 5 litres of fossil fuel to produce 1 square metre of road. Call it 100 litres to allow for inefficiencies. That, in turn, means about $100 per square metre of road.   

       If a two-lane road is 8m wide, this means $800 per linear metre of two-lane road, or about $1m/kilometre. Normal construction costs for 2- lane road are something like $5m/kilometre.   

       So, if you're laying a road across fusible rock or sand, maybe melting the rock isn't such a bad idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 31 2013


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