If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone National Park, you’ve undoubtedly waited for one of the most photographed and viewed natural phenomena to take place, Old Faithful erupting on it’s not-too-regular schedule. But if scientists are to be believed, Old Faithfuls act would be a spit in the ocean compared to the eruption of Yellowstone’s caldera.
Will the Yellowstone volcano erupt anytime soon? Probably not, but a report in Live Science boggled my mind with the immensity of hot magma boiling beneath the seemingly pastoral serenity of Yellowstone.
According to the article, Yellowstone’s volcanic floor has risen 9 inches in the past three years, which doesn’t seem like much until you understand what’s pushing it upward. There’s an enormous plume of molten rock that begins some 400 miles beneath the surface of Yellowstone, and rises to within 30 miles of the floor. The magma chamber widens out at that point, encompassing some 300 miles across. The article likens Yellowstone’s hidden blob of molten rock as being the size of Los Angeles, and has now risen to a point about 6 miles beneath the surface.
Does this mean an eruption is imminent, not necessarily so, according to scientists who constantly study the 40 x 25 mile bowl-like depression.
A seismologist at the University of Utah, Robert Smith, has been studying Yellowstone for years, and concludes in the article; “There is no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption or hydrothermal explosion. That’s the bottom line.” He went on to say there were a lot of calderas worldwide that rise and fall over decades without erupting.
All that taken into consideration, the recent uplift has occurred “faster than a previous record of .8 inches per year from 1976 to 1985”.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the recent spate of television specials predicting what would happen if Yellowstone erupted full-force, a scary scenario, especially the predicted effect on the world’s climate! But, what the heck, enjoy Yellowstone, it’s a beautiful, magical place, and if it blows while you’re there, you’ll become a part of history. Think about it.