Yellowstone volcano eruption: What would really happen if super-volcano erupted – expert

Yellowstone: ‘Not all eruptions are Armageddon’ says expert

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Yellowstone is one of the most feared volcanoes on the planet and has the potential to unleash a huge explosion. But scientists analysing the potentially deadly super volcano say an eruption like that is extremely unlikely, and some previous studies have revealed the feared volcano is actually waning in power.

In fact, activity at the caldera, located in Wyoming, is more likely to produce “huge lava flows”, according to an expert at the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Dr Mike Poland presented a USGS YouTube video which revealed “not all eruptions are like Armageddon”.

Instead, they are likely to be extremely big lava flows which trickle from the source of the volcano.

Dr Poland said: “The most common form of activity at Yellowstone is a lava flow, and even those are not that common – they happen once every tens of thousands of years.”

According to the scientist, the last lava flow began 170,000 years ago and lasted for 100,000 years.

As it did, it slowly carved out a ridge through the national park.

The lava produced at Yellowstone is not the typical flowing molten which one usually imagines.

Instead, Dr Poland described them as being “thick and pasty.”

Dr Poland said the fronts of lava flows “are basically cliffs, they are about 450 feet tall.

“When you stand in the Old Faithful area, that’s what you see all around you – some of these really big lava flows.”

Although lava flows are more common than explosions, they are not that regular.

In fact, the scientist stated that there have only been around 20 of these since the caldera-forming explosion 640,000 years ago. Of these, only two have been giant.


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Dr Poland said: “Lava flow activity at Yellowstone is much more common but still not super common.

“They are much more common than explosive eruptions, but still somewhat rare.”

Even if Yellowstone were to erupt in a cataclysmic style – of which there is no indication – experts have stated there would be plenty of time to prepare.

Volcanologist Dr Erik Klemetti of Denison University previously wrote in a piece for the Big Think: “Yellowstone is pretty calm as giant caldera systems go.

“We have such a small record of the behaviour of a ‘restless caldera’ that this inflation at Yellowstone could very easily fall into the realm of normal, non-eruption-causing behaviour.

“And if you ever worry, Yellowstone is also well-wired to see all the real-time data, including earthquakes in the region and in the park, temperatures of hot springs, webcams, deformation within the caldera and hydrologic changes in the area.

“You would expect that if Yellowstone were headed towards an eruption, we would see lots of rapid inflation, lots of constant seismicity that gets shallower through time, a change in the temperature/composition of the hydrothermal systems and possibly even cracks forming in the land around the caldera.

“In other words, there will be lots of signs.”

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