Sure, mentioning the super volcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park is a sure fire way to figure out which of your friends own a tinfoil hat, but there’s nothing silly about what park officials are dealing with right now.
While the idea that the Yellowstone Basin could one day explode in an enormous, fiery, possibly world-ending volcanic eruption has been out there for a long time. And it is, to some extent, absolutely true; at some point this thing is going to blow, but the general consensus has been that we shouldn’t spend every waking minute preparing for such a catastrophe. Mainstream science has long believed that we could be thousands of years away from just such an occurrence.
The conspiracy theorists of the internet, however…well that’s a different story.
— Laurie A O’Bryne (@adair1946) April 1, 2018
Yellowstone on average erupts every 600k yrs. Its been 631k yrs since last eruption.
Recent tremors have authourities concerned !
There has been activity over the last 10 yrs but last few yrs been quiet; which sometimes indicate s a build up of magma
— Eric/Kelly Bradstreet (@k_Bradstreet) March 26, 2018
What was the eruption in 1816 that killed summer globally? You have to figure the ash expulsion from Yellowstone would be hundreds of times larger
— DM ex DM (@kuhb00m) April 4, 2018
So…is there anything to it?
As it turns out…yes.
MORE than 20 police, fire and rescue vehicles descended upon the area around Yellowstone supervolcano this week to prepare for what could be a “life or death” emergency.
Yellowstone National Park Public Affairs confirmed that there could be a supervolcano eruption imminently – and that they were putting themselves through their paces so that they were ready for any eventuality.
Spokesman Morgan Warthin said: “Every opportunity like this, every training opportunity reveals both where our strengths are.
“But also how we can improve.”
So, how serious are we talking, in scientific terms?
Using Global Positioning System, borehole tiltmeters, and borehole strainmeters to measure minute changes in deformation at Yellowstone, David Mencin and Glen Mattioli said “the strain signal is larger than would be expected if the crust under Yellowstone were completely solid”.
To further push the idea that trouble could be brewing, a years-dormant geyser erupted earlier this year, spooking more than a few of the local park rangers.
Yellowstone National Park has reported a series of potential eruptions from the world’s largest active geyser for the first time since 2014. Park officials said employees reported seeing an eruption at the Steamboat Geyser in northwest Wyoming Thursday evening.
Geologists comparing the eyewitness reports to remote thermal sensors believe the activity could be a series of minor eruptions.
Steamboat Geyser certainly would be quite the barometer for action under the surface of the park, making emergency drills like the one described earlier all the more necessary.
As for what to do in case of a Yellowstone Mega-Volcano eruption during our lifetime? Experts agree that the most harmful effect of the explosion will be the volcanic ash, that could bury an enormous swath of the nation.
It looks like the answer to our preparedness dilemma lies in sunny Miami, Florida. Now where are my swim trunks?