Good News About Supervolcanoes

Supervolcanoes are volcanoes capable of producing eruptions about a thousand times larger than average. They produce huge craters, which pool magma until it cools and then often form lakes inside. They’re super scary, and the U.S. has four: Yellowstone, Long Valley, Valles Caldera, and Crater Lake.

However, scientists recently discovered some excellent news about these large ticking time bombs. It turns out that supervolcanoes have huge deposits of the element lithium in them from previous eruptions. This is wonderful because previously, the world’s lithium supply came mostly from Chile and Australia, and those supplies were starting to dwindle.

Lithium is essential to the near future of green technology because it’s used in batteries, like those used in electric cars and large storage batteries. It’s also used in phones, laptops, cameras, and nuclear devices. Until now, the U.S. has had to purchase lithium from other countries, making our continued use of the element precarious at best. However, with this discovery, the future of lithium in American technology is secured.

Thomas Benson, the lead author of the study announcing this discovery, notes just how important it is. “We’ve had a gold rush, so we know how, why, and where gold occurs, but we never had a lithium rush. The demand for lithium has outpaced the scientific understanding of the resource, so it’s essential for the fundamental science behind these resources to catch up.”