Yellowstone's killer hazard: Active Supervolcano

Opmmur

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Yellowstone's killer hazard: Earthquakes, not eruptions
Becky Oskin LiveScience


National Park Service

Yellowstone is an active volcano. Surface features such as geysers and hot springs are direct results of the region's underlying volcanism.

DENVER — A supervolcano blasting Yellowstone National Park to smithereens may capture the imagination, but the region's real risk comes from earthquakes, researchers reported here Sunday at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting.

"The pervasive hazard in Yellowstone is earthquakes," said Robert Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah. "They are the killer events."

Smith and his collaborators analyzed 4,520 earthquakes in and around Yellowstone that struck between 1985 and 2013. Their goal: Create the best picture ever of the magma chamber hidden beneath the park's colorful hot springs and spectacular geysers. A side benefit was a better view of the seismic risk from nearby faults. [Infographic: Geology of Yellowstone]

Constant trembling One of these faults triggered the most destructive earthquake ever recorded in the Rocky Mountains — the deadly magnitude-7.3 Hebgen Lake quake in 1959. The epicenter was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of West Yellowstone.

Smith said the probability of another magnitude-7 or larger earthquake on one of the major faults near Yellowstone is 0.125 percent. The number reflects the chance an earthquake will occur in any given year, based on past records.

The annual probability of a Yellowstone supereruption is a much smaller 0.00014 percent, Smith said.

Yellowstone National Park is cradled inside a gentle depression created by a giant volcanic eruption 640,000 years ago. The ground collapsed, leaving a bowl-shaped caldera. It was the third in a series of massive eruptions, the first of which exploded 2.1 million years ago.

A mantle plume (also called a hotspot) feeds Yellowstone's super eruptions. Hotspots are massive rising blobs of hot rock from Earth's mantle, the layer beneath the crust. As the planet's tectonic plates trundle over hotspots, the plumes punch through the crust, forming volcanic chains like Hawaii or the Idaho's Snake River Plain and Yellowstone.

In the millennia since the last massive volcanic blowout, magma has again built up beneath Yellowstone. The park trembles constantly with tiny earthquakes as gas and hot fluids course through underground fractures, escaping from the molten rock below.

Beneath YellowstoneLed by graduate student Jamie Farrell, the University of Utah group used these tremors like a CT scan, building a precise image of the underground magma reservoir.

However, Yellowstone's magma chamber isn't just a giant pool of molten rock. What's called a partial melt — small interconnected zones of magma filling fractures and small spaces — fills 6 to 7 percent of the crust beneath Yellowstone, Smith said. "The Yellowstone crustal reservoir is 250 percent larger than previously imaged," Smith said.

The actual volume of molten magma is between 200 to 600 cubic km (50 to 145 cubic miles), he said.

The reservoir is shaped like a dog's knobby chew toy, with one end about 9 miles (15 km) below the center of Yellowstone National Park, and the other rising to the northeast, about 3 miles (5 km) below the surface.

The shallow end extends 12 miles (20 km) northeast of the caldera rim created 640,000 years ago, Smith said. That distance matches the total tectonic drift of the North American plate over the Yellowstone mantle plume since that time, he said.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook and Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

 

Opmmur

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US, US News, Climate Change
Yellowstone Volcano Eruption in 2014? Are Animals
Fleeing Park As ‘An Alert’?


By Zachary Stieber, Epoch Times | March 31, 2014

Last Updated: April 2, 2014 3:40 pm




This map from the U.S. Geological Service shows the range of the volcanic ash that was deposited after the biggest of the Yellowstone National Park eruptions around 2.1 million years ago. "These eruptions left behind huge volcanic depressions called “calderas” and spread volcanic ash over large parts of North America," it said. "If another large caldera-forming eruption were to occur at Yellowstone, its effects would be worldwide. Thick ash deposits would bury vast areas of the United States, and injection of huge volumes of volcanic gases into the atmosphere could drastically affect global climate. Fortunately, the Yellowstone volcanic system shows no signs that it is headed toward such an eruption in the near future. In fact, the probability of any such event occurring at Yellowstone within the next few thousand years is exceedingly low."

A number of bloggers are posting videos that show bison and other animals allegedly leaving Yellowstone National Park, prompting theories that as earthquakes ramp up the seismic activity will set off the Yellowstone supervolcano.

Two of the main bloggers behind the discussion stress that there’s no way to know when the supervolcano will go off but note that the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that hit on March 30 seemed to set off a reaction from the animals, who are moving for a reason.

“Whether I believe this, or whether I don’t believe the story or not, I don’t know. I can tell you this story I saw this morning about the buffaloes running the street … whether or not it’s because of any activity in Yellowstone or not, I don’t know,” said blogger Jay Lee, who posted a story on his site tatoott1009.com.

“But I’ll tell you this, whatever the case may be, that their running away from Yellowstone is an alert of some sort.”


“It also could be from this video, where poachers are killing them, chasing them, abusing them, running them around,” he said. “Could be hundreds of things for them to be running. I wanted you to listen [to the videos] and make up your own mind on what to think. “

A series of smaller quakes have hit the region over the past few weeks, and those quakes have been linked to the recent 5.1 magnitude quake (and aftershocks) that hit in the Los Angeles region.

Tom Lupshu, who describes himself as a “noted Ohio survivalist and search-and-rescue expert,” said on YouTube that nearly one quarter of the northern elk herd at Yellowstone National Park are missing, according to the annual winter count.

“Biologists aren’t sure if there’s been a stunning decline in the herd or if other factors have skewed the tally,” he said. “Current Helium releases at 1000 times above normal. Complete media blackout. Herds of bison running for their lives on the public roadways and they were not being chased or rounded up, the bison were running down the mountain slopes onto roadways running right past a filming crew. They detect something vast and deadly. The Yellowstone Supervolcano is the only thing there that would fit the bill.”

Lupshu said in a later video that scientists say they can’t predict when the Supervolcano will erupt.

“But one thing is for sure. The more the Earthquakes in the region, the more are the chances of the volcano being activated from its dormant state. Last time an earthquake struck in 1980. But the force of nature has acted up once again.”

The supervolcano refers to the huge magma chamber beneath the park, which is in Wyoming.

Next page see: Supervolcano Far Bigger Than Thought

Supervolcano Far Bigger Than Thought

Researchers recently discovered that the supervolcano is far bigger than previously thought, about 2.5 times.

“We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger… but this finding is astounding,” said Bob Smith of the University of Utah.

The findings point to the potentially disastrous consequences if the volcano were ever to blow.

The last major eruption is thought to have happened around 640,000 years ago and sent ash across the entire North America.

Smith said researchers are unsure when the supervolcano would erupt again. Two other eruptions happened, one 2.1 million years ago, and the other 1.3 million years ago, Smith said. One theory is that eruptions happen every 700,000 years ago, but Smith said more data is needed to back that theory up.



Hot springs are evidence of the gigantic supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. (NPS)



(USGS)



(USGS)

The United States Geological Service’s Yellowstone Observatory emphasized in February bulletin that earthquake activity in and around Yellowstone is normal, because between 1,000 and 3,000 typically occur each year.

That includes several each year of magnitudes between three and five.

“Although rising magma and hot-ground-water movement cause some earthquakes, many occur as the result of Basin and Range extension of the western U.S. This tectonic environment has created a series of regional faults that are responsible for large and devastating earthquakes in the Yellowstone region along the Teton and Hebgen Lake Faults. Most recently, a devastating Mw7.3 (Ms 7.5) earthquake in 1959 killed 28 people and caused $11 million in damage (1959 dollars). The majority of the damage occurred as a result of a large landslide that was triggered by the quake,” it said.

“Geologists conclude that large earthquakes like the Hebgen Lake event are unlikely within the Yellowstone Caldera itself, because subsurface temperatures there are high, weakening the bedrock and making it less able to rupture. However, quakes within the caldera can be as large as magnitude 6.5. A quake of about this size that occurred in 1975 near Norris Geyser Basin was felt throughout the region.”

The 4.7 quake on Sunday happened four miles north-northeast of the Norris Geyser Basin. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations termed it “a light earthquake.” It also said that it was part of a series of quakes that includes at least 25 quakes.

The service previously said that research shows earthquakes often happen in clusters in the park, calling them multiplets, or families of repeating earthquakes. Over 15,000 of the more than 33,000 earthquakes that happened between 1984 and 2010 happened in the same location with similar motions from the same seismic sources.



Example of Yellowstone earthquake multiplets (families of repeating earthquakes) that can occur over periods of tens of years from similar seismic sources on the same geological structure. (USGS)

The service also says on its website that “Tere is no evidence that a catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is imminent. Current geologic activity at Yellowstone has remained relatively constant since earth scientists first started monitoring some 30 years ago. Though another caldera-forming eruption is theoretically possible, it is very unlikely to occur in the next thousand or even 10,000 years.

“The most likely activity would be lava flows such as those that occurred after the last major eruption. Such a lava flow would ooze slowly over months and years, allowing plenty of time for park managers to evaluate the situation and protect people. No scientific evidence indicates such a lava flow will occur soon.”

It did admit that the Yellowstone Volcano is still active, and that nothing can be done to prevent an eruption.

The National Park Service says that:

“At Yellowstone and some other volcanoes, some scientists theorize that the earth’s crust fractures and cracks in a concentric or ring-fracture pattern. At some point these cracks reach the magma ‘reservoir,’ release the pressure, and the volcano explodes. The huge amount of material released causes the volcano to collapse into a huge crater—a caldera.”



The Geological Service adds: “The youngest, the Yellowstone Caldera, was formed 640,000 years ago. Since then, about 80 eruptions of rhyolite (thick, sticky lava) and basalt (more-fluid lava) have occurred. The caldera’s interior is largely covered by rhyolites, most erupted in the past 160,000 years. Large hydrothermal (steam)-explosion craters formed in the past 14,000 years are located near Yellowstone Lake and in major geyser basins.

“Any renewed volcanic activity at Yellowstone would most likely take the form of such mainly nonexplosive lava eruptions. An eruption of lava could cause widespread havoc in the park, including fires and the loss of roads and facilities, but more distant areas would probably remain largely unaffected.”

Referring to helium emissions, the agency said that the research into helium conditions that was published earlier this year “has nothing to do with current activity at Yellowstone, and has no implications about volcanic hazards.”
 

TnWatchdog

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The animals are running cause they are smarter than a lot of people out there. Look how fast disasters can happen...a whole mountain can slide killing many or another could blow up. Any time or place something is going to happen, we are that close. Say your prayers and pop open another cold one!
 

Einstein

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Hey, that Bison video was just posted last month, middle of March. I found another one related that was posted in February. Check it out:

 

C_jami

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I can't believe it. Lol. I watch third time tonight 2012 movie. Not because I like it so much but because it happen that I've seen it with different people. Lol is it the same yellowstone like in the movie ?
 

TnWatchdog

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I can't believe it. Lol. I watch third time tonight 2012 movie. Not because I like it so much but because it happen that I've seen it with different people. Lol is it the same yellowstone like in the movie ?
Same place. I have been there several times and seen the buffalo grazing next to bubbling hot springs. Maybe they think it is time to move out. I recently saw a herd of elk crossing a road on the news...either getting out or normal migration, don't know which. Last time I was there a hotel clerk in Red Lodge, MT asked if I just came off the mountain. I said yes and asked...how can you tell? Your eyes he said. I have a phobia for roads that are above the clouds.
 

Opmmur

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Yellowstone Volcano Eruption: Report Claims That US Has Contingency Deal With Brazil, Australia
By Zachary Stieber, Epoch Times | May 7, 2014
Last Updated: May 7, 2014 2:15 pm


This map from the U.S. Geological Service shows the range of the volcanic ash that was deposited after the three huge eruptions over the last 2.1 million years.

If the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts then millions of U.S. citizens could end up in Brazil, Australia, or Argentina.

That’s according to the South African news website Praag, which said that the African National Congress was offered $10 billion a year for 10 years if it would build temporary housing for Americans in case of an eruption.

The potential eruption of the supervolcano, one of the biggest in the world, has been a hot topic ever since videos of animals allegedly fleeing the area before an earthquake were posted online. Although the veracity of the claims haven’t been backed up, dozens of bloggers and others have been trying to figure out what, if anything, is going on.

One of the latest theories is that the U.S. Geological Service and its partners, which keep an eye on the caldera, are hiding data from the public.

The Praag article says that the South African government fears that placing so many Americans in South Africa could dramatically change the country.

“South Africa will not be part of the plan, because there is a risk that millions of white Americans could be sent to South Africa in an emergency situation and that this would pose a risk to black national culture identity,” Dr. Siph Matwetwe, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, is quoted as saying.

“We have our own challenges, even if there is enough housing and infrastructure available, it will destabilize the country and may even bring back apartheid.”

The gigantic volcano in Yellowstone has erupted three times over the last two million years, covering a huge area of surrounding land. Maps from educational institutions and government officials project that up to 17 states could be fully or partially impacted if the volcano erupted again. The far south of Canada could also get hit, as well as the far north of Mexico.

Scientists aren’t sure when it will erupt next, although many have sought to assure the public that it probably won’t for a while. In reality, the volcano could erupt at any time, though officials would in theory be able to detect an impending eruption and alert Americans to the threat.
 

TnWatchdog

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Another short vid reviewing the Yellowstone situation. I find this subject very fascinating. If I could afford it, thanks obummer, I would take a return trip there as it is the most scenic area I have been to...IMO If you haven't yet...read up on this topic as this is a game changer.

 

TnWatchdog

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Hot spot: Yellowstone road melts, closing sites
Photo Courtesy of National Park Service
Firehole Lake Drive has been temporarily closed due to road surface damage caused by underground heat.
5 hr ago By MEAD GRUVER of Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The ever-changing geology of Yellowstone National Park has melted an asphalt road, blocking access to several popular geysers and other thermal features at the height of tourist season.
Park officials said Thursday they're evaluating how to address the problem.
Meanwhile, they're telling visitors not to hike into the affected area. They say the danger of stepping through a solid-looking crust of soil into boiling-hot water is just too high.
The hot spot has closed Firehole Lake Drive, a 3.3-mile loop six miles north of Old Faithful that takes visitors past Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser and Firehole Lake.
Naturally changing thermal features often damage Yellowstone's roads and boardwalks. Park spokesman Al Nash says fixing this damage will be a bit more challenging than the typical repair

Hot spot: Yellowstone road melts, closing sites
 

Opmmur

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Their is a number of things that could cause the whole area to blow sky high,
which are man-made and natural events.
 

walt willis

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Funny you should post this info as I received a call late last night from a retired geologist friend warning me of some new disturbing information about this very subject.

Thanks for the updates.
 

IroncladMarshmallow

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I can picture it now... liberal politicians passing a law making it mandatory that the earth get a permit to use its volcanoes. They're dangerous like guns, after all. And concealed carry of its volcanoes? Why I never! :D
 

TnWatchdog

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Is there a nuclear power plant near the volcano?

Looks like Colorado would be the closest but I would think any eruption could or would trigger activity in the New Madrid Fault line and we would be screwed or even worse. We should live each day, doing the best we can, and what happens underground happens...we can't control it...so have another cold one...I'm buying. lol
 

TnWatchdog

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How did I manage getting a double post? Paranormal activity going on or something.
 

PaulaJedi

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Maybe I'm wrong about the safe zone. It may be a disaster zone. Look at all those nuclear power plants that could leak from earthquakes.

And yes, that picture looks familiar. LOL
 

TnWatchdog

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Maybe I'm wrong about the safe zone. It may be a disaster zone. Look at all those nuclear power plants that could leak from earthquakes.

And yes, that picture looks familiar. LOL
I like North Dakota as a safe zone...but being from Minnesota I realize it is too darn cold up there so I'll take my chances where I am at.
 

Opmmur

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Russia Issues: Grim Report on Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption

 

Opmmur

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Theoretical Primordial Black Hole - Evacuate Earth: Hell On Earth Part 1

 
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Opmmur

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What Would Happen If Yellowstone Erupted: Hell On Earth - Evacuate Earth Part 2

 
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