Yellowstone National Park, home to Old Faithful and some of the prettiest and most pristine natural beauty on the planet, is one of the largest volcanoes ever discovered. Scientists made a wild hypothesis back in the mid-20th century that massive volcanoes spanning hundreds of square miles actually existed at one time on this planet. We would later find out that they still do exist on earth. One of the largest is in our own backyard. Scientists have now located 7 of these giants on the planet. Any one of them erupting would cause massive devastation and threaten human existence on this planet. These same scientists have determined that the sleeping giant under Yellowstone National Park is the most likely to erupt, and is actually "overdue". But with the internet, social media, and the many ways to circulate information now days, many subjects can be exaggerated, and plenty of misinformation can hit the eyes of millions in just a few hours. Because of this misinformation as of late, the USGS issued a statement (something this meteorologist has never seen before) regarding some of these so called “facts” that have been circulating the internet about the majestic park and the monster hiding beneath it. Here is what it says…
“Though we love doing research at YVO (Yellowstone Volcano Observatory), we prefer it when the research is on topics geological rather than the origin of false rumors. Nevertheless, we have received enough concerned emails and phone calls that we've spent some time tracking down a few of the statements made on various "alternative Internet news sources."
1) First, everyone should know that geological activity, including earthquakes and ground uplift/subsidence is well within historical norms and seismicity is actually a bit low at present.
2) Concern over road closures is much overblown. There's been one road closure of a small side road – just over three miles long – that was closed for two days. As one can imagine, it is not easy to maintain roads that pass over thermal areas where ground temperatures can approach those of boiling water. Roads at Yellowstone often need repair because of damage by thermal features as well as extreme cold winter conditions.
3) The park has not been evacuated. This one is pretty easy to verify by everyone. If the Old Faithful webcam shows people, or if news articles are coming out about a hobbyist's remote control helicopter crashing into a hot spring, Yellowstone is certainly open for business.
4) No volcanologists have stated that Yellowstone is likely to erupt this week, this month or this year. In one recent article, a name was attributed to a "senior volcanologist", but that person does not appear to exist, and a geologist with that name assures us that he did not supply any quotes regarding Yellowstone.
5) Finally, we note that those who've kept track of Yellowstone over the past decade or so, have seen a constant stream of "predictions" regarding imminent eruptions at Yellowstone. Many have had specific dates in mind, none had a scientific basis, and none have come true.
We will continue to provide updates on geological activity at Yellowstone, and educational materials to help understand the science around Yellowstone monitoring.
Virtually everything known about Yellowstone's spectacular volcanic past comes from the scientists who work at this observatory, at all our eight member agencies. We're the ones who mapped the deposits, figured out the ages of the eruptions, measured the gases, located the earthquakes, and tracked the ground movement. A few of us have been doing it for over forty years. We will continue to help you understand what's happening at Yellowstone now, and what's likely to happen in the future.”
To sum this up… yes, Yellowstone National Park sits atop a huge volcano. But there is no evidence to show that this volcano will erupt anytime soon. So sleep easy…. For now….