Cars and smartphones of the future could be powered by super volcanoes like Yellowstone after scientists discovered that ancient deposits within them contain huge reservoirs of lithium—a chemical element used to make lithium-ore batteries, supplies of which are rapidly decreasing.

Lithium, a soft white metal first discovered in 1817 by Johan August Arfvedson, has become broadly used in manufacturing, most importantly in the production of rechargeable batteries for phones, laptops, cameras, and vehicles. But it is a finite resource, and with car manufacturers and technology companies increasingly looking to create battery-powered devices, lithium is becoming an ever-more precious metal, with demand outstripping supply.

 

In These depressions often fill with water to become lakes, with the ash and pumice ejected during the eruption spread across the caldera in ancient deposits. In By comparing concentrations of magmas formed in these various tectonic settings, they were able to show how super volcanoes have the potential to host huge amounts of lithium-rich clay deposit.

“If you have a lot of magma erupting, it doesn’t have to have as much lithium in it to produce something that is worthy of economic interest as we previously thought,” study co-author Gail Mahood said in a statement. a supply of lithium available could prove hugely useful in the coming decades—it could meet the rising demand for the metal and to “diversify the global lithium supply chain,” the team wrote. “We’re 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.”

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