Yellowstone: the world’s most dangerous volcano is moving

May 21, 2011YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyoming – The nation’s oldest park is also one of the most studied. The interest is not just in its amazing vistas and wildlife, but in the volcanic beast below the park. Yellowstone sits atop one of the world’s biggest, active volcanoes, one capable of laying waste to much of North America. Scientists keep an eye on it using a network of seismic and GPS sensors. Professor Emeritus Robert Smith of the University of Utah is one of those scientists. A geophysicist, Smith a leading expert on the Yellowstone super volcano. “We monitor it in real time for earthquake swarms and ground deformation.” He says the park is in constant motion. Visitors can’t see it, but the ground at their feet is moving up and down as magma pushes against the thin crust and powers the park’s many geysers. The changes are most evident at the Norris Geyser Basin. Henry Heasler, the Yellowstone Park geologist said, “It changes daily. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the change near boardwalks because that impacts visitor and employee safety.Why are all the hydrothermal features here?” Heasler continued, “The geysers? The mud pots? The steam vents? The hot springs? It’s because of the heat beneath our feet.” The heat from the volcano is the culprit. And beginning in 2004, volcanic pressure caused an amazing rise at the park: Three-inches a year for five-years. Professor Smith said, “That’s a lot of uplift and it’s over an area that’s over the entire Yellowstone caldera — 50-miles long of uplift.” “If you went under a rubber sheet,” Heasler said describing the uplift, “And pushed your thumb up, it’s not just sticking up where your thumb is, there’s like a slope to it.” In fact, as the land has bulged, Yellowstone lake has tilted enough that its water has flooded out trees on the south arms. And now, the ground is sinking. And the drop has brought up a whole new set of questions for scientists. “Why haven’t the trees emerged again?” asked Heasler. “We don’t know.” They are watching the data as well as the geothermal features of the park for clues. At times, those geologists see themselves are doctors monitoring a patient. In this case, the patient took a deep breath (between 2004-09) and now it is letting it out. That much is clear from the observations. The unanswered question is, “why?” –ABC 4
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This entry was posted in Earth Changes, Earth Watch, High-risk potential hazard zone, Landslide & geological deformation, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Seismic tremors, Volcano Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Yellowstone: the world’s most dangerous volcano is moving

  1. J Guffey says:

    Hey Alvin, did you see this yet? (Sorry, I know it’s not related, but didn’t have a better place to post on this site.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Maps/AK10/60.70.-180.-160.php

    Like

  2. Kim says:

    Ok say it does erupt what states would be affected? I do have family there in Montana so it is scary to even think of it erupting because if it did they couldn’t get away in time.

    God Bless

    Like

    • Kim, I don’t think any of us should lose any sleep over Yellowstone because if it ever does erupt; there is nothing any of us can do. A powerful super-eruption like ones in the previous past would be 2500 times stronger than a Mount St. Helens event and by some estimates, the explosions could bury the entire continental U.S. in a meter, 3 feet of ash. A massive super-eruption in Yellowstone’s early history deposited ash as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. It may never erupt in our lifetime or it could happen tomorrow- we don’t know. About the only thing we do know is the ground is bulging, every eruption has been linked to the movements of the North American Plate, and it’s long over-due.

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    • Roxanne says:

      Your question about what states would be affected is answered in the article. “…capable of laying waste to much of North America.” That’s the entire continental U.S. and Canada. The last time a super volcano erupted, about 75,000 years ago, 90% of life on the entire earth was destroyed. They are ELE events.

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  3. Expression says:

    The consequences would be catastrophic, not only for the USA but for the planet. If the ash from one small volcano in Iceland stopped air traffic over the UK and Europe for nearly 2 weeks, Yellowstone may put an end to flying for many years. The loss of lives in the USA would be staggering, and the loss of agriculture…as you say it probably isnt worth thinking about.
    Interesting article, thanks.

    Like

  4. Jose Saldana says:

    Iceland’s volcano erupting, 50 quakes!!

    Like

  5. wonderone says:

    Did you hear about 8.4 earthquake near coast Libia ? Is it true or mistification ?

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=libya+earthquake+8.4

    Like

  6. Jennifer says:

    I actually check this site more often than I check my local news source for natural happenings. Thanks for keeping us all informed :)

    Like

  7. Joe Frisch says:

    Great web-site, Information given most interesting and thought provoking.

    Like

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