10 geological discoveries that absolutely rocked 2020

This year, scientists uncovered some of the Earth’s most well-kept secrets. They found hidden rivers, chunks of lost continents and remnants of ancient rainforests, and they delved into the planet’s ancient history using cutting-edge technologies. Who knows what they’ll unearth next! While we wait to find out, here are 10 of the geological discoveries that rocked our world in 2020.

Historic supereruption at Yellowstone 

(Image credit: National Park Service)

The Yellowstone hotspot lurks beneath the national park’s geysers and hot springs, and about 9 million years ago, the volcano exploded in two historic supereruptions, scientists found. After analyzing ancient volcanic rock tracts and volcanic deposits in the region, the team uncovered evidence of two previously unknown eruptions, which they named the McMullen Creek supereruption and the Grey’s Landing supereruption. The Grey’s Landing eruption shattered records as the largest eruption of the Yellowstone hotspot ever detected; about 8.72 million years ago, the eruption covered roughly 8,900 square miles (23,000 square kilometers) of what is now southern Idaho and northern Nevada with volcanic debris. 

Monstrous blobs near Earth’s core are bigger than we thought 

(Image credit: Doyeon Kim/University of Maryland)

Continent-size blobs of rock sit at the boundary of Earth’s solid mantle and liquid outer core, and now, scientists think they might be bigger than we ever imagined. By previous estimates, the two largest blobs would measure 100 times taller than Mount Everest if pulled to the planet’s surface. But after studying decades of seismic data from earthquakes, scientists now estimate that the big blob beneath the Pacific Ocean may actually be far more monstrous. For instance, one newfound structure along the edge of the blob measured more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across. 

Lost islands in the North Sea withstood massive tsunami 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Roughly 8,000 years ago, a tsunami struck a plain between Great Britain and the Netherlands, submerging most of the region. But research suggests that some islands may have withstood the tsunami, providing a home to Stone Age humans for thousands of years. Though they remained above water for some time after the tsunami, rising sea levels eventually submerged the islands about 1,000 years later. Scientists learned the lost islands had survived the tsunami only after collecting sediment from the seafloor near the eastern English estuary of the River Ouse. 

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