Have you been hearing about Yellowstone in the news a lot lately? Worried it’s gonna blow? Here are some things you should know.
Thanks to a team of experts at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO), who are monitoring the volcano 24/7, we would be well aware of the warning signs associated with a volcanic eruption. The current status of the volcano is “normal” and “green”. Two indications that the volcano is in its typical, non-eruptive state.
Second, Yellowstone isn’t required to erupt ever again.
Yellowstone has experienced 23 smaller-scale eruptions after its last supereruption ~631,000 years ago (Christiansen, 2001; Matthews et al., 2015). If the volcano were to erupt again, it would be more probable that it would be one of these smaller-scale eruptions. Check out Till et al. (2015) Geology paper investigating the magmatic events leading up to one of these smaller-scale eruptions.
Third, our study recently highlighted in the New York Times is claiming nothing of the current state or future of the volcano.
Our study featured in the New York Times was investigating the magmatic events that lead to the last supereruption ~631,000 years ago. Although our preliminary results suggest these events occurred on timescales on the order of decades, this does not equate to a prediction of the future of the volcano. Further work is required to resolve such predictions. You can find our scientific paper on the subject here.
For a clear explanation dispelling myths about the volcano, read the Snopes.com article published following the New York Times piece. Also check out Arizona PBS interview, Arizona Channel 12 Sunday Square Off, and an ASU Now article where Christy Till articulates what’s really going on.
-Hannah Shamloo, Winter 2018