Things have been heating up in Yellowstone Park lately, geologically speaking, and scientists have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why. The flurry of activity revolves around the Steamboat Geyser which has erupted 3 times in recent weeks.
The infamous geyser spouted on March 15, April 19, and again on Friday April 27.
Steamboat is the world’s largest geyser and sits at the crown of the Yellowstone caldera volcanic crater. Until this year, the geyser had been dormant for 15 years, so that fact, coupled with the fact that many believe that the Yellowstone Super Volcano is 40,000 years overdue for an eruption has caused some panic among Yellowstone observers.
Fortunately, scientist Michael Polland, geophysicist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, has put the recent incidents in perspective. From the UK Daily Express:
Mr Poland believes the geyser is spurting out a monster clog of tension though smaller more manageable eruptions instead of opting for one huge one.
He told the Chicago Tribune: “This is what geysers do. They erupt.
“Yellowstone has this strange psychology to it about a world-ending event.” The expert added the series of eruptions were “nothing to be afraid about”.
Mr Poland said another possibility behind the three recent explosions could be down to thermal disturbances in the form of heated underground magma powerful enough to change the behaviour of geysers and even form new ones.
He also concluded the frequency of the latest eruptions simply reflected “randomness”.
There is reason to fear the Yellowston volcano, though. When it blows, it’s no small event!
Also from Daily Express:
Three large Yellowstone volcano mega eruptions have rocked the planet in the past, with the first Earth-shattering blast occurring 2.1 million years the ago.
The second super volcano eruption took place 1.3 million years ago in what is today’s Island Park in Eastern Idaho. The third and most recent cataclysmic eruption split the US about 640,000 years and formed the Yellowstone caldera as we know it today.
Yellowstone eruptions seem to occur roughly every 600,000 to 700,000 years and many are now concerned Yellowstone is overdue another crushing eruption.
The fear of eruption is in fact so prevalent, many US citizens have flooded social media to warn their fellow countrymen.
Twitter user @RonJac12 posted: “An eruption at Yellowstone is about 15,000 years overdue.
“The last eruption sent the earth into the last ice age. The next one is looming and could end mankind.
“I’ve always thought Mother Earth would do us in before we could do it to ourselves.”
Scientists now estimate Yellowstone is one of the most unpredictable and dangerous threats faced by humanity.
In October 2017, a team of researchers studying minerals from Yellowstone’s last eruption, suggested the volcano could blow a lot faster than expected.
Hannah Shamloo and Christy Till at the University of Arizona tackled the commonly held assumption Yellowstone would prepare to blow over several centuries. Instead they suggested we have decades.
Ms Shamloo said: “It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption.”
Once again, Mr Poland seems to be the cooler head in this steamy volcanic discussion, saying, “We see interesting things all the time… but we haven’t seen anything that would lead us to believe that the sort of magmatic event described by the researchers is happening.”
Lending credence, however, to the possibility of a massive geological event taking place in Yellowstone is the recent discovery by University of Oregon researchers of a massive lava buildup underground.
From Daily Express:
YELLOWSTONE volcano computer modelling has helped scientists uncover the secrets behind recent seismic activities of vast magma bodies beneath the monstrous supervolcano, pointing towards the presence of a second untapped source of magma below the Yellowstone National Park.
A team of scientists at the University of Oregon (UO) have shed light on the intense geological processes several miles below the Yellowstone volcano mantle.
According to UO doctoral student Dylan Colón, at depths between five to 10 kilometres (three to six miles), cold and rigid rock gives way to hot material and scorching magma.
Computer models have now indicated the presence of a second large magmatic body which has so far remained hidden to the watchful gaze of volcanologists.
Such an eruption would see lava swallow a radius of up to 30 or 40 miles in diameter, with “disastrous” accumulations of 10 or more centimetres in a radius of up to 500 miles.
While a major eruption doesn’t seem as eminent as some social media users would like for you to believe,