According to a group of seismologists who are monitoring the potentially catastrophic supervolcano, Yellowstone is “under strain.” This new report has reignited fears that the caldera could erupt at any moment.
Experts were alerted to the volcano’s strain after noticing deformation. This process, where subsurface rocks subtly change shapes, is occurring beneath the surface of Yellowstone right now. Researchers state deformation occurs when there is a change in the amount of pressure in the magma chamber and experts are keeping an eye on the development.
Seismologists from UNAVCO, a non-profit university-governed consortium, are using “Global Positioning System (GPS), borehole tiltmeters, and borehole strainmeters” to measure minute changes in deformation at Yellowstone. In an article for the Billings Gazette, David Mencin and Glen Mattioli, geodesists with UNAVCO, say “the strain signal is larger than would be expected if the crust under Yellowstone were completely solid.”
“What that means, at least in their eyes, is that there’s lava flowing that’s allowing pressure to build in the chamber,” says Joe Joseph of The Daily Sheeple. “I don’t know if this is good or bad!”
These independent observations agree with other instruments at Yellowstone, like seismometers, that indicate a zone of semi-molten rock starting about 3 miles beneath the surface. The term “semi-molten” is used because the entire zone contains only between 5 and 15 percent liquid rock that occupies small pockets of space between the solid rock.
But the scientists want to assure the public that these observations are no cause for alarm. “Of course, they’re always gonna say that,” says Joseph. “It’s about 700,000 years ago they say when it erupted and it’s long overdue. So here we are, Yellowstone, yet again, thrust into the news because of some of this new data coming out…,” Joseph said.
If the Yellowstone volcano nestled mostly in Wyoming were to erupt, an estimated 87,000 people would be killed immediately and two-thirds of the USA would instantly be made uninhabitable. The large spew of ash into the atmosphere would block out sunlight and directly affect life beneath it creating a “nuclear winter.”
Is this a cause for alarm?