November 2, 2013 – WYOMING – Yellowstone National park is the largest super-volcano on the continent and possibly the world. It’s an underground boiling cauldron of lava, but just how likely is it to erupt or do scientists have other concerns? “It’s been 640,000 since the last eruption,” says Jake Lowenstern, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. The lava pool beneath Yellowstone National Park is more than twice as big as scientists previously believed, that’s according to new research from the Geological Society of America. Scientists from the University of Utah say the lake of molten lava is nearly 50 miles long and 12 miles wide. Jake Lowenstern, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, says even a small eruption could cause a minor disaster. “It could cause damage to the rivers, some flooding, it’s going to put some ash into the air and the ash could certainly get out to the communities out here.” The park is known for the lava lake that fuels all the hot springs. Scientists don’t think the super-volcano will erupt, but the real risk to the region comes from earthquakes.
“There’s going to be more earthquakes, the ground is going to move more and molten rock can’t move up into this geyser system without causing explosions.” Researchers analyzed, get this, 4,500 earthquakes in and around Yellowstone from 1985 to 2013. Scientists say the likelihood of a major quake greater than magnitude 7 is just over a tenth of a percent which is a thousand times more likely to happen then a super eruption. “We do have the Geyser system at Yellowstone can be unstable at time and it can hurl rocks and throw them out … We get earthquake swarms. We have the ground moving up and down at Yellowstone.” The last major earthquake in the area measured 7.3 and was in 1959. It was the most destructive earthquake ever recorded in the Rocky Mountains. “If you look at the time scale of Yellowstone, it has been active a couple million years, it has these things semi-regularly. There will be events again, but you might have to wait another 10,000 years before it happens.” Just in the last week, there have been 25 earthquakes in the park area according to geologists. The good news, the biggest one registered only 2.9. –KURL8