When Will Yellowstone Erupt? A major eruption at Yellowstone is far from being overdue. Volcanoes don’t operate predictably, and neither do their eruptions. Although the volcano may be “overdue” for an eruption, the math does not support this claim.
At 2.08, 1.3, and 0.631 million years ago, Yellowstone underwent three major explosions that were large enough to be recorded. This translates to an average interval between eruptions of 725,000 years. A 100,000-year time span remains, but this is predicated only upon two eruption times that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
The vast majority of volcanoes that experience supereruptions only see one at a time. If there are multiple supereruptions in a volcanic system, they don’t occur at the same rate across time. Despite the possibility of a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone, scientists are unsure if one will occur.
The rhyolite magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is only 5-15 percent molten (the rest is solidified but still hot), so it is unclear if there is even enough magma beneath the caldera to feed an eruption. Even if Yellowstone erupts once more, it won’t be a major event. An old lava flow in Yellowstone, dating back to 70,000 years ago, was the most recent eruption in the park. Scroll down for When Will Yellowstone Erupt?
What is the Yellowstone Supervolcano?
Five miles below the surface of Yellowstone National Park lurks a reservoir of hot magma, fed by a gigantic plume of molten rock that rises hundreds of miles from deep within the Earth. Many of the park’s well-known geysers and hot springs are the result of this intense heat. The ground rises and falls as the magma cools in the chamber above it.
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That magma chamber has erupted on a few occasions in the past. Smaller lava flows have accounted for the great bulk of Yellowstone’s eruptions, with the latest happening approximately 70,000 years ago at Pitchstone Plateau. However, Yellowstone’s “super-eruptions” are the primary reason for the park’s high profile.
The Volcano Explosivity Index defines a “super-eruption” as an eruption with a magnitude of 8 or higher and at least 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material ejected. Five feet deep, that’s enough to cover Texas with mud. In comparison, these super-eruptions are thousands of times more powerful.
Since 2.1 million years ago, Yellowstone has undergone three of these huge eruptions—1.3 million years ago, 664,000 years ago, and now. After this last one erupted at Yellowstone Lava Creek, a 34-mile x 50-mile depression was left in the ground, forming what we now know as the Yellowstone Caldera.
When Will Yellowstone Erupt?
When Will Yellowstone Erupt? Researchers can better understand the status of stress on Earth’s crust with a current seismograph and GPS monitoring of Yellowstone’s earthquakes, which is done using devices that track earthquake location and magnitude as well as slow ground movement. Those pressures could lead to earthquakes and magma eruptions. “
When Was the Last Time Yellowstone Erupted?
Rhyolitic lava flows from Yellowstone’s most recent eruptions occurred about 70,000 years ago. The Pitchstone Plateau in southwest Yellowstone National Park was produced by the greatest of these flows. Find out more here: The History of the Yellowstone Volcanoes Yellowstone Plateau’s evolution The Volcano Field: Past, present, and future.
A Super-eruption is Capable of Sending Ash Many Thousands of Miles
If a considerably larger super-eruption were to take place, the warning indicators would be much more prominent than they were before. Intense seismic activity across the entire park would likely be the first sign of an impending eruption, according to Lowenstern. It could be weeks or months before the rocks above the magma are broken up by those earthquakes.
A super-eruption, which is 1,000 times more powerful than an ordinary volcanic eruption and which ejects at least 240 cubic miles of material and lasts weeks or months, is also a possibility. Only about 40 miles or so of the park’s perimeter could potentially be affected by the lava flows. There is a good chance that only a third of this material will reach the atmosphere.
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Ash from the volcano would cause the most harm because of its high-altitude dispersion, which spread throughout the United States. According to their new study, Lowenstern and his colleagues analyzed both historical ash deposits and advanced computer modeling to conclude an eruption would produce an umbrella cloud that would spread out in all directions.
Potentially devastating areas of Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and Utah might be covered with three feet of ash in the event of an eruption of the super-eruption.
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