As with many things in nature, it helps to understand the past when trying to predict the future. Ilya Bindeman, an associate professor of geological sciences at the University of Oregon, believes this is true of the Yellowstone supervolcano and the likelihood that it will produce an apocalyptic eruption as it has three times over the last the last 2 million years.
Bacteria first discovered in Yellowstone's hot springs could help produce ethanol from crops such as switchgrass.
The term's used to describe explosive volcanic eruptions that eject about ten thousand times the quantity of magma and ash as Mount St Helens, one of the most explosive eruptions in recent years.
'Super-eruptions' of major volcanic systems such as Yellowstone are triggered by a combination of the temperature influence and precise shape of the magma chamber, say scientists.