Yellowstone Scientist: No, We’re Not Overdue for Volcanic Eruption

View of Old Faithful erupting with a beautiful deep blue sky in Yellowstone National Park

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A scientist studying Yellowstone National Park’s volcanic activity diffused any rumors that the park is overdue for a large eruption earlier this week.

In the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory’s monthly update, scientist Mike Poland shot down the notion that Yellowstone’s supervolcano is overdue for eruption and that lava could start flowing any second.

“This isn’t true,” he said. “There’s two reasons why this is the case. First: volcanoes don’t work that way. They don’t erupt on schedules.”

Yellowstone has three calderas and two resurgent domes

Poland explained that volcanoes erupt when there is a sufficient supply of a reputable magma beneath its surface coupled with enough pressure to get that magma up to the surface.

He added that the magma chamber underneath the volcano is only 5-15% magma, which is not enough to generate a large eruption or explosion.

According to the Yellowstone website, the volcano’s last large eruption happened around 174,000 years ago, creating what is now the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.

There have been 60 smaller eruptions since, the last of which occurred around 70,000 years ago.

Poland said that even if the volcano erupted on a schedule, the math didn’t work out to it erupting “soon.” Really, the math showed the volcano wouldn’t erupt again for another 100,000 years.

“Point being, Yellowstone is not overdue,” Poland said. “And frankly, if you hear someone on a documentary or the internet saying ‘Yellowstone’s overdue,’ you know right off the bat that they don’t know what they’re talking about at all.”

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