Yellowstone Volcano: Super eruptions 'are very rare' says expert
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Up to 3,000 earthquakes rock the Yellowstone volcano each year, leading many to falsely believe a disaster is brewing deep underground. Located under the state of Wyoming in the Western US, Yellowstone has seen three cataclysmic eruptions in the last 2.1 million years. And although there is no evidence to suggest the supervolcano will erupt again within our lifetime, the latest activity report from the US Geological Survey (USGS) is unlikely to put minds at ease.
According to a monthly activity report published on Wednesday, Yellowstone National Park and the nearby areas were rocked by a total of 97 earthquakes in August.
The figure is a steep decline from July’s 1,008 tremors, but is in line with the average monthly seismicity.
The biggest of these quakes was a magnitude 3.1 event located about 12 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana, on August 20.
The USGS said: “Although there was some minor ongoing seismicity that continued from July’s energetic swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake, no swarm activity was observed in August.”
The good news is, Yellowstone earthquake activity has returned to background levels.
And yet, social media is rife with unfounded claims and conspiracy theories about Yellowstone’s supposed explosive future.
In particular, many people live in the belief Yellowstone is overdue for another eruption, despite no evidence to back these claims.
One Twitter user, for instance, said on Monday: “Thinking about the hundreds of years overdue extinction-level events, just waiting to happen in North America (The Big One, San Andreas, Yellowstone Volcano) all of which could be so big one going off could trigger the others so they could all be happening around the same time.”
Yellowstone volcano: Expert debunks theory of 'overdue' eruption
Another person said: “I live with insane anxiety every day knowing any day could be the last day since Yellowstone is thousands of years overdue to erupt and it would kill everything.”
And a third person claimed: “The Yellowstone supervolcano is way overdue (by geological standards) to erupt.
“It’s not a question of if, it’s more a matter of when and the sooner the better.”
But none of these fears can be substantiated by any geological evidence.
According to the USGS, Yellowstone is not overdue and there is no reason to believe it will ever erupt again.
And should it erupt in the far future, odds are the eruption will be a hydrothermal one and not an explosive volcanic one.
The USGS said: “This type of small, but still explosive eruption can occur from shallow reservoirs of steam or hot water rather than molten rock.
“These reservoirs are the sources of Yellowstone’s famous geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles.
“Such explosions could blast out shallow craters more than a kilometre wide; as has occurred in the northern Yellowstone Lake Basin, including Mary Bay and nearby Turbid Lake and Indian Pond, and in western Yellowstone National Park north of Old Faithful.”
August also proved to be quiet for the world-famous Steamboat Geyser.
Steamboat has not erupted since July 8, meaning this year’s number of eruptions remains 13.
The USGS said: “The time between major Steamboat water eruptions is lengthening, which probably indicates that the geyser is entering a period of quiescence.
“This is typical behaviour for Steamboat, with the geyser experiencing few-year periods of frequent eruptions separated by years to decades of very few eruptions.”
But the show is not over just yet, geologists noticed a “sequence of minor eruptions” in mid-to-late August, suggesting a proper blast is brewing.
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