Yellowstone Volcano Eruption: Report Claims US Has Contingency Deal With Brazil, Australia

Zachary Stieber
theepochtimes.com
May 9, 2014

eruption

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.

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What Would An Eruption Of The Yellowstone Supervolcano Look Like?

Michael Snyder
The Truth Wins
April 1, 2014

On Sunday, the worst earthquake in about 30 years rattled the Yellowstone supervolcano.  Overall, there have been at least 25 significant earthquakes at Yellowstone National Park since Thursday, but it is the 4.8 earthquake that has many observers extremely worried.

Image: Yellowstone National Park (Wiki Commons).

Could such a large earthquake be a sign that the Yellowstone supervolcano is starting to roar to life after all this time?  And if it does erupt, what would that mean for the rest of the country?  As you will see below, a full-blown eruption at Yellowstone would be absolutely catastrophic.  It is estimated that such an eruption could dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away and render much of the nation uninhabitable for years to come.  In essence, it would instantly bring the United States to its knees.

It is true that it is normal for Yellowstone to experience up to 3,000 earthquakes a year.  But most of those earthquakes are extremely small and nothing to worry about.

But the 4.8 earthquake that struck on Sunday is definitely raising eyebrows – especially considering what else has been going on at Yellowstone lately.

For example, the scientists that monitor Yellowstone are telling us that the area where the earthquake was centered has been experiencing “ground uplift” in recent months…

A University of Utah release said that the quake area had experienced a “ground uplift” since August and that “seismicity in the general region of the uplift has been elevated for several months.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that the largest volcano in the U.S. by far has been experiencing “ground uplift” is not very comforting to me.

And there have been reports of strange animal behavior around Yellowstone as well.  For example, the following YouTube video of numerous bison literally running away from Yellowstone has gone viral…

That video was captured during the month of March well before the 4.8 earthquake happened.

Could it be possible that those bison sensed that something was coming?

The danger posed by Yellowstone should not be underestimated.

This is something that I have written about before, but since then scientists have discovered that the Yellowstone supervolcano is actually two and a half times larger than they previously believed it to be…

Late last year a new study into the enormous super volcano found the underground magma chamber to be 2.5 times larger than previously thought — a cavern spanning some 90km by 30km and capable of holding 300 billion cubic kilometres of molten rock.

If the sleeping giant were to wake, the outflow of lava, ash and smoke would devastate the United States and affect the entire world.

A full-blown eruption at Yellowstone would be unlike anything that any of us have ever seen before.  The following YouTube video attempts to portray what would happen to areas within a few hundred miles of Yellowstone…

But of course the devastation would not just be limited to the northwest part of the country.  The following are some more facts about Yellowstone that I compiled for a previous article

#1 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could be up to 1,000 time more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

#2 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would spew volcanic ash 25 miles up into the air.

#3 The next eruption of Yellowstone seems to be getting closer with each passing year.  Since 2004, some areas of Yellowstone National Park have risen by as much as 10 inches.

#4 There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the Yellowstone area every single year.

#5 In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed.

#6 A massive eruption of Yellowstone would mean that just about everything within a 100 mile radius of Yellowstone would be immediately killed.

#7 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could also potentially dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.

#8 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would cover virtually the entire midwest United States with volcanic ash.  Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out.

#9 The “volcanic winter” that a massive Yellowstone eruption would cause would radically cool the planet.  Some scientists believe that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.

#10 America would never be the same again after a massive Yellowstone eruption.  Some scientists believe that a full eruption by Yellowstone would render two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.

#11 Scientists tell us that it is not a matter of “if” Yellowstone will erupt but rather “when” the next inevitable eruption will take place.

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In essence, a Yellowstone eruption would be on the same level as a Carrington event.  Either one would fundamentally change life in the United States in a single day.

Personally, I certainly hope that we do not see an eruption at Yellowstone any time soon.  And actually, I am much more concerned about the possibility of an eruption at other volcanoes in the northwest such as Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier.

But if the ground keeps rising rapidly at Yellowstone and earthquakes like the one that struck on Sunday keep on happening, then it would be very foolish for us to ignore the warning signs.

And of course you shouldn’t expect the government to warn you about the potential threat of a Yellowstone eruption until the very last moment.  Generally speaking, the government is much more concerned about “keeping people calm” than it is about telling us the truth.

We seem to have moved into a time of increased seismic activity all over North and South America.  In such an environment, it would not be wise to say that an eruption at Yellowstone “can’t happen”.

The truth is that an eruption at Yellowstone could happen at any moment.  Let us just hope that we are all out of the way when it does.

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Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert: The Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life

Michael Snyder
American Dream
October 3, 2013

Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at a record rate.  In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year.  The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano – the largest volcano in North America.  Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable.

Magma PocketMagma Pocket 100 miles below sufaceMagma Pocket 200 miles below sufaceMagma Pocket 300 miles below sufaceMagma Pocket 400 miles below sufaceMagma Pocket 500 miles below suface

A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would render much of the United States uninhabitable.  When most Americans think of Yellowstone, they tend to conjure up images of Yogi Bear and “Old Faithful”, but the truth is that sleeping underneath Yellowstone is a volcanic beast that could destroy our nation in a single day and now that beast is starting to wake up.

The Yellowstone supervolcano is so vast that it is hard to put it into words.  According to the Daily Mail, the magma “hotspot” underneath Yellowstone is approximately 300 miles wide…

The Yellowstone Caldera is one of nature’s most awesome creations and sits atop North America’s largest volcanic field.

Its name means ‘cooking pot’ or ‘cauldron’ and it is formed when land collapses following a volcanic explosion.

In Yellowstone, some 400 miles beneath the Earth’s surface is a magma ‘hotspot’ which rises to 30 miles underground before spreading out over an area of 300 miles across.

Atop this, but still beneath the surface, sits the slumbering volcano.

When most Americans think of volcanic eruptions in the United States, they remember the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens back in 1980.  But that eruption would not even be worth comparing to a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.

And now the area around Yellowstone is becoming increasingly seismically active.  In fact, Professor Bob Smith says that he has never seen anything like this in the 53 years that he has been watching Yellowstone

YellowstoneSuperVolcano

Until recently, Bob Smith had never witnessed two simultaneous earthquake swarms in his 53 years of monitoring seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone Caldera.

Now, Smith, a University of Utah geophysics professor, has seen three swarms at once.

In September, 130 earthquakes hit Yellowstone over the course of a single week.  This has got many Yellowstone observers extremely concerned

Yellowstone’s recent earthquake swarms started on Sept. 10 and were shaking until about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16.

“A total of 130 earthquakes of magnitude 0.6 to 3.6 have occurred in these three areas, however, most have occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin,” a University of Utah statement said. “Notably much of seismicity in Yellowstone occurs as swarms.”

So what is the worst case scenario?

Well, according to the Daily Mail, a full-blown eruption of Yellowstone could leave two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable…

It would explode with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980.

Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10ft deep up to 1,000 miles away.

Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.

Can you think of another potential disaster that could accomplish the same thing?

That is why what is going on at Yellowstone right now is so important, and the American people deserve the truth.

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Beneath Yellowstone, a volcano that could wipe out U.S.

By James Seidel, News.com.au

December 12, 2013 | 11:52am

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Beneath Yellowstone, a volcano that could wipe out U.S.

Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest in the United States and third largest in the world.Photo: Reuters

It’s the awe-inspiring pride of the United States – and it harbors a deadly power that could kill us all.

Yellowstone National Park is pristine wilderness, full of scenic landscape and iconic hot-pools and geysers that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year.

But it’s what lies beneath that has scientists scurrying.

We’ve long known that Yellowstone is merely the skin on top of a supervolcano – a giant pool of magma sitting just under the Earth’s surface.

Exactly how giant has been the subject of much speculation.

Until now.

A team from the University of Utah have told the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco that Yellowstone’s magama chamber is 2.5 times larger than previously thought.

It is an underground cavern that measures some 55 miles by 20 miles and runs between 3 and 9 miles below the earth.

If it blows it will wipe out America – and have enormous impacts on the rest of the world.

The university researchers described their discovery as “astounding.”

Professor Bob Smith told the BBC: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger … but this finding is astounding.”

The research is part of an ongoing effort to assess the true threat the molten beast represents.

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The Grand Prismatic Spring is beautiful but it sits just above a dangerous supervolcano.Photo: Reuters

What is a supervolcano?

The common picture of a volcano being a mountainous cone of ash and lava does not apply to the supervolcanos like Yellowstone.

These are vast spaces of collapsed crust that formed pools – known as calderas – under a seemingly normal surface. Only mapping reveals the gentle swell, over a space of hundreds of square kilometres, that contains the cauldron of molten magma below.

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The “Crested Pool” hot spring at Yellowstone is world famous, but the thermal heat that creates it could be deadly.Photo: Getty Images

Eruption ‘due’

From analysis of rock and sediment layers, scientists say another eruption is almost due – at least by geological standards.

It appears the supervolcano explodes roughly once every 700,000 years.

Three such eruptions are known: One was 2.1 million years ago. Another was 1.3 million years ago.

The most recent was 640,0000 years ago.

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Lightning streaks across the sky as lava flows from a volcano in Iceland. If the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted it would be like Armageddon.Photo: Reuters

Big Bang

So what would happen if Yellowstone was to erupt?

Something close to Armageddon.

Soil samples reveal that the last time it happened the whole of North America was smothered by ash. The lava flow was almost as great.

The streams of molten rock were hundreds of miles long, and miles thick.

Such was the extent of the smoke and debris cloud generated by the eruption that the climate of the entire world was affected for several centuries.

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The Abyss geothermal pool is beauty created by a potential world-destroying supervolcano.

Measuring the beast

The ongoing rumbles caused by earthquakes in and around Yellowstone National Park provided the means by which the full extent of the magma chamber was revealed.

As the seismic waves moved through the ground, the different speeds of their travel was recorded by a network of seismometers.

“The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material … with this, we can measure what’s beneath.” Dr. Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah, said.

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Tourists walk beside a hot spring and the partially frozen Yellowstone Lake.Photo: Getty Images

But wait: There’s more

Twenty “smaller” supervolcanoes have been found nearby, on the Utah/Nevada state border.

The new study published in the journal Geosphere shows that these volcanoes are not active today. But, 30 million years ago, they spilt more than 5500 cubic kilometres of magma during a one-week period.

“In southern Utah, deposits from this single eruption are 4km thick. Imagine the devastation – it would have been catastrophic to anything living within hundreds of miles,” Dr. Eric Christiansen of Brigham Young University said.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.

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Yellowstone supervolcano not about to erupt, despite rumours

Park officials received thousands of calls after running bison video went viral

Thomson Reuters Posted: Apr 04, 2014 11:05 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 04, 2014 11:05 AM ET

Old Faithful Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park. The geyser is fuelled by geothermal activity in the park, which sits atop a huge supervolcano.

Old Faithful Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park. The geyser is fuelled by geothermal activity in the park, which sits atop a huge supervolcano. (Jim Urquhart/REUTERS)

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Yellowstone National Park assured guests and the public on Thursday that a super-volcano under the park was not expected to erupt anytime soon, despite an alarmist video that claimed bison had been seen fleeing to avoid such a calamity.

Yellowstone officials, who fielded dozens of calls and emails since the video went viral this week following an earthquake in the park, said the video actually shows bison galloping down a paved road that leads deeper into the park.

"It was a spring-like day and they were frisky. Contrary to online reports, it’s a natural occurrence and not the end of the world," park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said.

Assurances by Yellowstone officials and government geologists that the ancient super-volcano beneath the park is not due to explode for eons have apparently done little to quell fears among the thousands who have viewed recent video postings of the thundering herd.

Commentary with one of the clips by a self-described survivalist wearing camouflage, dark sunglasses and a black watch cap suggests the wildlife exodus may be tied to "an imminent eruption here at Yellowstone."

4.8 magnitude earthquake last Sunday

The 4.8 magnitude earthquake that struck early Sunday near the Norris Geyser Basin in the northwest section of Yellowstone, which spans 9,000 square kilometres of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, caused no injuries or damages and did not make any noticeable alterations to the landscape, geologists said.

Though benign by seismic standards, it was the largest to rattle Yellowstone since a 4.8 quake in February 1980 and it occurred near an area of ground uplift tied to the upward movement of molten rock in the super-volcano, whose mouth, or caldera, is 80 km long and 50 kilometres wide.

But neither the quake, the largest among hundreds that have struck near the geyser basin in the last seven months, nor the uplift suggest an eruption sooner than tens of thousands of years, said Peter Cervelli, associate director for science and technology at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Science Center in California.

"The chance of that happening in our lifetimes is exceedingly insignificant," said Cervelli, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Cervelli said the area of uplift that scientists have been tracking since August is rising at a rate of between 10 centimetres and 15 centimetres a year. Geologists who tracked uplift in the same area from 1996 to 2003 also saw elevated seismic activity, he said.

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Volcano Update from Archive


YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY MONTHLY UPDATE

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 11:57 AM MDT (Tuesday, April 1, 2014 17:57 UTC)

YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (VNUM #325010)
44°25’48" N 110°40’12" W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code:
GREEN
Seismicity
During March 2014, the University of Utah reports 277 earthquakes were located in the Yellowstone National Park region. More events will be added as the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, processes the remaining March events. The largest event was a light earthquake of magnitude 4.7 on March 30, at 06:34 AM MDT, located four miles north-northeast of Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The M4.7 main shock was reported felt in Yellowstone National Park, in the towns of Gardiner and West Yellowstone, Montana and throughout the region. This is the largest earthquake at Yellowstone since the early 1980s. Initial source analysis of the M4.7 earthquake suggests a tectonic origin (mostly strike-slip motion).
March 2014 seismicity was dominated by two earthquake clusters in the Norris Geyser Basin region and are described below.
1) A north-south trending series of earthquakes, over seven miles in length, began in September, 2013 and persisted throughout March with 130 events. The largest earthquake (magnitude 3.5) occurred on March 26, at 05:59 PM MDT, located 13 miles south-southwest of Mammoth, WY.
2) The earthquake series containing the March 30 magnitude 4.7 event began on March 27 and continues into April. At the end of March the series consisted of 70 located earthquakes, including the largest earthquake of the month, four magnitude 3 earthquakes, and numerous magnitude 2 and smaller earthquakes.
Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region.
Yellowstone earthquake activity in March is elevated compared with typical background levels.

Magma Pocket 20% Larger

Ground deformation
The ground deformation occurring in north-central Yellowstone continues. Since August 1, 2013, the NRWY GPS station has moved about 1.5 cm east, 2 cm north, and 5.5 cm up.
Further south, the caldera subsidence, which began in 2010, has ceased. Since the beginning of 2014, the caldera has been slowly rising at a rate of about 2 cm/yr. All the deformation currently occurring in Yellowstone remains well within historical norms.
The Yellowstone GPS network recorded no deformation associated with the March 30, 2014 M4.7 earthquake. Earthquakes of this size and depth do not typically produce ground displacements large enough to detect with GPS.
Other
The GPS field crew at Yellowstone has traveled around the Park over the past week and has not observed any effects from the earthquake. If any subtle changes have occurred, they are most likely to be found after the snow melts.
YVO’s real time temperature data in Norris Geyser Basin indicate no significant changes to the thermal features that are monitored.(http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/yellowstone/yellowstone_monitoring_32.html)
The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.
YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey
CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jacob Lowenstern, Scientist-in-Charge
jlwnstrn@usgs.gov

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Yellowstone Super Volcano Won’t Erupt Say Experts, If They’re Wrong We’re All Doomed

The Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 28/04/2014 11:57 BST  |  Updated: 28/04/2014 13:59 BST

Stand down apocalypse fans, the Yellowstone super-volcano is not going to erupt imminently and wipe out humanity.

Rumours of an impending eruption have been circulating online spurred by a video of bison "fleeing" the national park in the US state of Wyoming.

The park sits atop a massive volcano that measures 34 by 45 miles which las erupted 640,000 years ago.

yellowstone volcano

The super-volcano has erupted three times in the past

Adding to the online panic was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake, the biggest to hit the area in three decades.

Volcanologists are keen to quash the rumours.

Peter Cervelli, a volcano expert at the US Geological Survey, said: "It was the strongest in 30 years, but it was not that strong.

"Recently, over the last six months, we are in an episode of uplift. This probably explains the recent earthquake.

"I have not made yet an observation at Yellowstone that causes me to be afraid or causes me to wonder if an eruption was coming."

yellowstone

And what about the mysterious behaviour of the animals?

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash, said: "We do have bison, elk and other animals that have moved out of the park recently.

"They tend to migrate at this time… to lower elevations, where they think they can get food, and then they come back."

So, we can all calm down – unless he experts are wrong in which case WE’RE ALL DOOMED!!!.

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Yellowstone volcano: A Russian scientist’s view on the Yellowstone volcano

A new report says the supervolcano below Yellowstone National Park is 2.5 bigger than previously thought. The research still needs to be peer reviewed, but it’s a scary reminder of what could happen. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest.on.aol.com

Heather TooleyTop News Examiner

April 22, 2014

A Russian scientist offered his take on the Yellowstone volcano and whether it will explode in the near future. The supervolcano has been the subject of much research and it was recently discovered just how massive it is. Several quakes around Yellowstone National Park have put a sense of fear in many. Video footage of wildlife fleeing the area at the end of winter just added to that fear.

In a piece published April 21 in the Voice of Russia, Professor of the Petrology Department of Moscow State University geology faculty, Pavel Plechov, agreed with many American scientists regarding the supervolcano. It was revealed that if the volcano explodes, it could potentially obliterate everything globally.

Plechov informs everyone that the Yellowstone volcano won’t blow anytime soon. He said "70,000 years has passed since the latest eruption and there were thousands of similar earthquakes in the area but they triggered no eruptions." He recalled a series of larger earthquakes in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2010 by saying those events were "typical of this region. I see no prerequisites to the big bang and don’t expect any."

Live Science also reported similar findings that the Yellowstone volcano won’t erupt in the immediate future. Although the 4.8-magnitude quake that shook the national park area March 30 alarmed the nation, researchers said that doesn’t mean the volcano is going to "spew or even belch" anytime soon.

Plechov noted that Americans have a "special monitoring service" that indicates there will be "no eruptions for at least one million years!" He went on to say that the Yellowstone caldera is one of the most closely monitored in the world.

"There is an operating volcano observatory – round-the-clock monitoring seismic activity, gases and many other parameters. Yellowstone is well researched – that’s why even minor changes cause media outlets to fuss around the globe," Plechov said.

According to the vast majority of scientists who study the supervolcano, they remain confident it won’t explode anytime soon. When it comes to the Yellowstone volcano, no one else seem to be quite sure about that.

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Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

AAA yellowstone alertmap area

Location: Wyoming and Montana
Latitude: 44.615° N
Longitude: 110.6° W
Elevation: 2,805 (m) 9,203 (f)
Volcano type: Caldera
Composition: basalt to rhyolite
Most recent eruption: 70,000 years ago—lava, current—hydrothermal explosions

sleeping-volcano

Most recent Super Eruption: 630,000 years ago Lava Creek Ash Bed

Yellowstone Monthly Update
Thursday, May 01, 2014 12:50 PM
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Cistern Spring

Biscuit Basin, Yellowstone Cistern Spring, Yellowstone

YVO’s Mission
The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory provides timely monitoring and hazard assessment of volcanic, hydrothermal, and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone Plateau region.

FAQ about Recent News Reports – Earthquake, Ground Uplift, Animal Movement, and Helium
April 02, 2014
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of news, real and imagined, about the Yellowstone volcanic system. Below is a brief FAQ about several topics that have appeared in recent news reports.
Has earthquake activity at Yellowstone increased dramatically over the last month?
With the latest swarms, earthquakes are elevated, but are not unusual for Yellowstone. Below is a bar chart that shows the last 20 years of earthquakes in the north-central part of the park. The previous uptick in earthquakes in this part of the park was during the previous period of uplift in this region.

Cumulative earthquake counts (provided by the University of Utah) located in region north of the Caldera, centered near Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, from April 1994 to April 2014.
 (Click image to view full size.)

Cumulative earthquake counts (provided by the University of Utah) located in region north of the Caldera, centered near Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, from April 1994 to April 2014.

Is the recent episode of ground deformation worrisome?
No. Current rates of ground deformation are well within historical norms. Please see our February 18, 2014 Information Statement, for more information about ground deformation at Yellowstone.
Are animals leaving Yellowstone National Park?
According to the park, any animal migrations are typical for this time of year. Most of the recent videos on the internet that show running bison were filmed weeks (at least) before Sunday’s earthquake. Park spokesman Al Nash discusses this and other topics in a YouTube video.

Do helium emissions at Yellowstone signal an impending eruption?
No. YVO Scientist-in-Charge Jacob Lowenstern and colleagues recently published research on helium (He) emissions at Yellowstone in the journal Nature. The new research looked at apparent changes in the helium output of the Yellowstone area during its two-million-year volcanic history, compared with the previous two billion years of comparative stability. The research has nothing to do with current activity at Yellowstone, and has no implications about volcanic hazards. For a humorous and informative take on the new research, read the Los Angeles Times article, "It’s up, up and away for ancient trapped helium at Yellowstone," or watch the Slate.com video "Ancient Helium Is Escaping by the Ton from Yellowstone."

It’s up, up and away for ancient trapped helium at Yellowstone

Yellowstone helium

Steam plumes rise above thermal features along the Firehole River at Yellowstone National Park. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the famed national park was releasing hundreds — if not thousands — of times more helium than anticipated. (Ken McGee / U.S. Geological Survey)

Talk about passing gas: Vast stores of helium are escaping from the steam vents and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park after being trapped within Earth’s crust for up to 2 billion years, according to new research.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the famed national park was releasing hundreds — if not thousands — of times more helium than anticipated.

The crust ‘holds its breath’ for long periods of time, and then releases it (helium) during tectonically and volcanically active bursts.- Jacob Lowenstern, a research geologist and scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and lead study author

In fact, researchers say, the escaping helium — about 60 tons per year –  is enough to fill one Goodyear blimp every week.

They also calculate that this "sudden" release of gas began roughly 2 million years ago, with the advent of volcanic activity there.

"That might seem like a really, really long time to people, but in the geologic time scale, the volcanism is a recent phenomenon," said study coauthor Bill Evans, a research chemist at the USGS office in Menlo Park, Calif.

Helium, or more accurately the isotope helium-4, is produced in Earth’s crust as uranium and thorium decay. Often, this nonradioactive, crustal helium is swept away by groundwater, or freed as a result of tectonic movement.

Magma Pocket 20% Larger

But in areas where there is little groundwater or movement in Earth’s crust, helium-4 can remain trapped and build up over time. This is especially true at Yellowstone, where inactive rocks, or what geologists call "craton," have been estimated to be 2.5 billion years old. (The park is located primarily in Wyoming.)

"The Yellowstone crust is among the oldest on Earth, and for most of its history had been part of the tectonically moribund core of North America," said lead study author Jacob Lowenstern, a research geologist and scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Things began to change roughly 2 million years ago, however,  when hot magma intruded on the crustal system from below and triggered several enormous volcanic eruptions, the most recent about 640,000 years ago. 

"Think of it this way: You have these old crustal rocks just sitting around for hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of years," Evans said. "They have this boring little existence, and then suddenly somebody puts the heat on under them and they start giving up all their long-held secrets."

Yellowstone’s so-called magma "hot spot" still exists, and gives rise to the park’s numerous and crowd-pleasing geysers, hot springs and fumaroles.

The researchers said the discovery of high levels of helium was a result of their investigations into volcanic activity at the park, and came as a surprise.

Though the helium itself cannot be dated to determine how long it has been in the ground, they can extrapolate how long it’s been there by comparing density levels with other areas.

"This really isn’t a volcano story," Lowenstern said. "But it reveals how the Earth’s crust behaves on a long time frame. The crust ‘holds its breath’ for long periods of time, and then releases it during tectonically and volcanically active bursts."

In addition to inflating balloons and blimps, helium is used in electronics, the car and aerospace industries and healthcare. Though there is a current shortage of the element, the researchers said it was unlikely that Yellowstone’s helium would be captured and processed.

"It’s a national park, so you’d never set up an extraction industry there," Evans said. "But even if that weren’t the case, it would still be difficult to capture this helium and purify it. It just wouldn’t be economical."

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