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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Supervolcano for describing what
might happen someday. But don't bet on it being soon.


Supervolcano (2005) - 115 minutes
Supervolcano at Amazon.com

It's under Yellowstone. And it's overdue.

1-11-21 Reawakened Yellowstone geyser isn’t a sign of imminent explosion
Despite extensive data, the 2018 reactivation of Steamboat Geyser is still a mystery. A recent reawakening of the tallest geyser in the world is not a harbinger of an imminent volcanic eruption, a new study reports. And it isn’t likely to portend a dangerous hydrothermal explosion either, which can occur when superheated water turns to steam and bursts violently out of the confining rock, researchers report in the Jan. 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The reason for the sudden restart of Steamboat Geyser, found at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, remains a mystery, the scientists say. But the study, which examines a wealth of seismic, environmental and other data from the Yellowstone region, is helping scientists better understand what makes Steamboat, and other geysers, tick. After over three years of dormancy, Steamboat abruptly shot a towering stream of hot water into the sky on March 15, 2018. That event kicked off a new active phase for the geyser, one of Yellowstone’s most famous features — and made some park watchers wonder if the sudden eruption warned of greater dangers yet to come. When it comes to potential threats at Yellowstone, the supervolcano itself gets most of the attention (SN: 1/2/18). But its deep reservoir of magma also heats groundwater that circulates underground or pools on the surface — and those boiling waters pose a far more immediate threat to park visitors. “Probably the biggest hazard in Yellowstone is people going off trail and falling in the boiling water. But there’s always a risk of hydrothermal explosions,” says Michael Manga, a geologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Such explosions are little understood and therefore difficult to anticipate. But they can be deadly: In December 2019, for example, a sudden hydrothermal explosion at Whakaari, or White Island, in New Zealand killed 22 people.

8-9-18 Another supervolcano in California is not as dormant as we thought
The Long Valley Caldera in east California unleashed a supervolcano eruption 760,000 years ago. Today it is quiet but it may have a few smaller eruptions left in it. A long-dormant supervolcano in California still holds over 1000 cubic kilometres of semi-molten magma. The find suggests the supervolcano is not entirely extinct, but a major eruption remains extremely unlikely. Long Valley Caldera in east California is 32 kilometres across and almost a kilometre deep. It marks the spot where, 760,000 years ago, a supervolcano spewed out over 1400 cubic kilometres of material in just six days. Clouds of super-hot ash and rocks blanketed the surrounding 50 kilometres, and ash landed as far afield as Nebraska. The volcano has not erupted on a similar scale since, although smaller eruptions continued until about 100,000 years ago. Since then it has been dormant. But since the late 1970s, the dome in the centre of the caldera has been slowly rising. So geologists have closely studied the area to find out whether it might ever erupt again. “There have been more than 20 studies in the last 40 years,” says Ashton Flinders of the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. But he says they either imaged “small features down to shallow depths of just a few kilometres” or “much deeper but only really large features”. “This has left a bit of a shadow zone in the mid crust, where the shallow studies can’t see and deeper studies tend to blur anything they do see.”

1-2-18 A sinking, melting ancient tectonic plate may fuel Yellowstone’s supervolcano
Computer simulations suggest that a core-deep plume of magma isn’t needed to power the massive eruptions. The driving force behind Yellowstone’s long and explosive volcanic history may not be as deep as once thought. A new study suggests that instead of a plume of hot mantle that extends down to Earth’s core, the real culprit is a subducting tectonic plate that began sinking beneath North America hundreds of millions of years ago. Computer simulations show that movement of broken-up remnants of the ancient Farallon Plate could be stirring the mantle in a way that fuels Yellowstone, researchers report December 18 in Nature Geoscience. “The fit is so good,” says study coauthor Lijun Liu, a geodynamicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The giant supervolcano now beneath Yellowstone National Park, located mostly in Wyoming, has a 17-million-year history — much of it on the move. In that time, the locus of volcanism has moved northeastward from southwestern Idaho to its current location, where it most recently explosively erupted about 640,000 years ago. These shifting eruptions have created a track of volcanic craters resembling those created by the hot spot that formed the Hawaiian island chain. As a result, scientists have long suspected that a deep plume of magma originating from the core-mantle boundary, similar to the one that fuels Hawaii’s volcanoes, is the source of Yellowstone’s fury.

7-25-17 Yellowstone National Park hit by 1400 earthquakes in six weeks
Yellowstone National Park hit by 1400 earthquakes in six weeks
A major quake swarm has hit Yellowstone National Park - but it’s unlikely to be a sign of an impending volcanic eruption, according to geologists. It’s shaking so much, it could be renamed Jellystone. Since 12 June, about 1400 quakes – most of them tiny – have been recorded in Yellowstone National Park in the western US. The earthquake “swarm” is occurring in the Hebgen Lake area. In 1959, a major quake in this region killed 28 people. But geologists monitoring the activity don’t think another big one is on the cards. “Usually, you don’t get swarms before a big quake like that, and it’s too soon after the 1959 quake for enough strain to build up for a repeat,” says Jacob Lowenstern of the US Geological Survey in California, who heads the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. “You’d be looking at the order of 200 years or so for enough strain to accumulate.” “This is a large swarm but it is not the largest swarm we’ve recorded in Yellowstone,” says Jamie Farrell at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “Earthquake swarms are fairly common in Yellowstone.” What’s more, the chances of significant activity associated with the Yellowstone supervolcano are slim, says Farrell. “There is no indication that this swarm is related to magma moving through the shallow crust,” he says. “The bottom line is that visitors should definitely not be worried about an impending volcanic eruption of the Yellowstone volcanic system.” Lowenstern says the swarm is still active at a low level. “It could go on for another month.”


Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Supervolcano for describing what
might happen someday. But don't bet on it being soon.