Yellowstone: Expert dismisses ‘overdue’ eruption claim
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Volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer addressed the rumour that the Yellowstone volcano is due a massive eruption. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Oppenheimer insisted that there was “not enough data” to suggest this was true. He argued that smaller eruptions were more likely than larger eruptions, similar trends seen regarding earthquakes.
Mr Oppenheimer said: “I am afraid this is just bad statistics.
“There have been three colossal eruptions in the last couple million years.
“One was 2 million years ago, the largest of the three years, one was 1.3 million years ago, the smallest and there was one that was 640,000 years ago.
“On the basis of those three data points one might suggest there is roughly an interval of about 700,000 years between those, let us extrapolate to the next tone.
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“But there just isn’t enough data points and volcanoes don’t necessarily behave like that.”
Mr Oppenheimer argued that it would not be wise to suggest that Yellowstone National park is due an eruption anytime soon.
He said: “The notion that we are overdue an eruption really has no statistical or volcanological basis.
“The more likely scenario is for the next activity at Yellowstone is an eruption of a much smaller scale.
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“When we look at volcano eruptions around the world there are much more often smaller eruptions than big ones.
“This is what we call a frequency magnitude relationship, like the Richter scale for earthquakes.
“Very large events are exceedingly rare and small ones are happening all the times.”
Despite the unlikeliness of a major eruption, Mr Oppenheimer explained the extreme devastation that would occur if Yellowstone erupted.
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Mr Oppenheimer said: “The regional picture, depending on where we are in the world would be very devastating.
“It would have long-lasting impacts, just because it would have impacts on communication and infrastructure, salting up of reservoirs.
“It would have all kinds of impacts on any basic functioning society.”
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