Yellowstone Volcano: Super eruptions 'are very rare' says expert

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The US Geological Survey (USGS) has published this month its annual activity report for the Yellowstone volcano area. The document revealed a total of 1,722 earthquakes were detected within the Yellowstone region last year, with about 52 percent of the tremors occurring as swarms. Yellowstone volcano, which sits in the western United States, is one of the country’s most seismically active regions – and according to many people, one of the planet’s most terrifying features.

Yellowstone’s last period of volcanic activity went off about 70,000 years ago and released enough lava to create the Pitchstone Plateau.

Before that, the supervolcano experienced three caldera-forming eruptions that shaped the national park’s present-day features.

The eruptions went off roughly 640,000, 1.3 million and 2.1 million years ago, leading many to speculate Yellowstone erupts like clockwork.

And although the USGS has assured there is no evidence whatsoever to back this claim, social media is still swarmed with worrying claims concerning the supervolcano.

One Twitter user recently said: “Every day I remember that Yellowstone is far overdue for an eruption and when it does we will all die in an instant

“And then I remember we’ll die in an instant and I feel better.”

Another person said: “Abnormal amount of earthquake activity at Yellowstone yesterday and today… feeling of anticipation…”

And a third person said: “Here I am about to graduate college in 25 days and all I keep stressing about is the fact we’re overdue for the Yellowstone super-volcano to erupt and send us into another ice age.”

But the good news is these fears are completely unfounded and scientists do not expect Yellowstone to rear its ugly head any time soon – at least no within the foreseeable future.

Yellowstone volcano: Expert debunks theory of 'overdue' eruption

According to the USGS, there is not a shred of evidence to suggest Yellowstone is overdue and last year’s seismic activity is well within the norms of Yellowstone.

Mike Poland, Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO), said: “For example, there were 1,722 earthquakes located in the Yellowstone region during the year, the largest being M3.1, and 52 percent of the quakes occurred as swarms, 26 of which were documented during the year.

“This is well within the range of normal annual seismicity—typically 1,500 to 2,500 earthquakes occur every year in and around the park!”

Earthquake swarms typically account for about 50 percent of this activity.

Ground deformation rates were also well within the norm last year, with the Yellowstone caldera subsiding by about one inch per year – as it has been doing since 2015.

The USGS report reads: “Earthquakes have been monitored in the Yellowstone area since the 1970s.

“The Yellowstone Seismic Network is maintained and operated by the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, which records data from 46 stations in the Yellowstone region.

“On average, about 1,500 to 2,500 earthquakes are located in and around Yellowstone National Park every year (most of which are too small to be felt by humans), making the Yellowstone region one of the most seismically active areas in the United States.”

There is no evidence to suggest Yellowstone is going to erupt again – and if it does, it might not even be a volcanic eruption.

Dr Poland said in 2019: “So the next time you hear that Yellowstone is ‘overdue’, feel free to roll your eyes.”

According to the USGS, a hydrothermal eruption is a much more likely scenario.

These eruptions are driven by shallow reservoirs of steam and hot water, instead of magma.

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