This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily
By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
It’s like going in the doctor’s office and being asked: “What do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?”
That’s what scientists can offer when talking about the giant super volcano under Yellowstone National Park.
The bad news is that the super volcano will erupt and will likely destroy much of the United States.
The good news is it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
Michael Poland, the scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told AccuWeather last week that the volcano located under the park has erupted at least three times in the past and would “devastate much of the United States” when it erupts again.
The timeframe for such an eruption, however, is such that Americans don’t have to start immediately packing their bags for Antarctica, Mars, or anywhere else. We’ve got some time, he said.
How to know when to start panicking? More seismic activity. A lot more.
Right now, there are between 1,500 and 2,500 earthquakes per year in Yellowstone. Once that number goes up, worrying can follow.
“If we saw earthquake activity begin to pick up in very significant ways,” Poland said. “Instead of seeing thousands of earthquakes every year we would see tens of thousands.”
Plus, there would be deformation in the ground at Yellowstone, he said. That means there would be a noticeable change in elevation. Right now, it moves between 1 and 2 inches per year.
“If it were to suddenly start rising very quickly, that might be another indicator,” Poland said.
But he’s not worried about it.
“There’s no indication that the Yellowstone magmatic system is really going to be waking up anytime soon,” he said.
That’s good news as Yellowstone National Park is expecting a record year for visitation in 2021 and an eruption would likely put a dent in it.