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Questions persist about Yellowstone eruption: Is US evacuation plan in place?

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The earth around the Yellowstone supervolcano is increasingly becoming seismically active. Some scientists say it is not a matter of “if” the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt, but rather “when” it will erupt.

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And so, questions persist about a "worst-case scenario" Yellowstone supervolcano eruption:

  • Is US Geological Service (USGS) keeping an eye on Yellowstone caldera and hiding data from the public?
  • What does the "Yellowstone eruption warning" from Unavco mean and just who is Unavco?
  • Does the US have a contingency plan in place for a worst case scenario?
  • Does the worst-cast scenario involve an evacuation plan?
  • If Yellowstone erupts, will millions of US citizens be evacuated to Brazil, Australia, or Argentina?

The gigantic Yellowstone supervolcano has erupted three times in the last two million years. A Yellowstone eruption would render much of the US uninhabitable, depositing a 10-foot deep layer of volcanic ash as far as 1,000 miles away. Maps from educational and government institutions project that as many as 17 states could be fully or partially impacted by a Yellowstone eruption, with areas of Canada and Mexico affected as well.

As an aside: US keeps 450 Minuteman III ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) at three air force bases in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. There are missile silos in Montana and Wyoming. In April the Pentagon announced that is removing missiles from these silos. What with all that seismic activity stirring at Yellowstone, not to mention widespread cheating on proficiency tests by Air Force officers serving on Minuteman III launch teams, its probably a very good idea to get as many missiles as possible out of the area.

A Yellowstone eruption could leave the entire Midwest of the United States covered with volcanic ash and two-thirds of the country uninhabitable, with food production almost totally wiped out. The entire planet would be affected, with global temperatures dropping by as much as 20 degrees.

Professor Bob Smith, a University of Utah geophysics professor, says in his 53 years of monitoring seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone caldera, he never witnessed two simultaneous earthquake swarms, that is until Sept 2013, when he witnessed 130 quakes in Yellowstone over the course of a single week.

Unavco, a nonprofit consortium funded by the National Science Foundation, manages a large GPS instrument network. It helps scientists install temporary and fixed stations at or near the earth’s surface to measure movements in the earth's crust. It has sensors in Yellowstone.

In late May, Unavco issued a warning on one of its Yellowstone sensors when a yellow warning light came on. Then today, there is the latest news from videographer Mary Greeley, who gives Yellowstone supervolcano updates for June 1 as follows:

  • Old Faithful geyser had a very large eruption with a dark cloud that included extremely hot steam.
  • Two Yellowstone monitoring stations are now under at an orange alert level after the 3.3 quake
  • A definite uplift and a water temperature spike

It has been reported by the Daily Mail that Brazil, Argentina and Australia will participate in the US “evacuation plans." While US scientists have also identified South Africa as an area where people could survive the volcanic winter, according to the South African news website Praag, the African National Congress (ANC) has rejected an offer of $10 billion a year for 10 years to build temporary housing for Americans in case of a Yellowstone eruption.”

The ground underneath Yellowstone National Park has been rising at a record rate of about three inches a year, and the volcano is continuously monitored by seismographs (though a lot of this information is being withheld from the public by the USGS and others). In fact, the volcano could erupt at any time and, in theory, officials would detect an impending eruption and alert Americans.

It is thought (hoped) the U.S. will have a few weeks or at least days of warning to evacuate large numbers of its citizens abroad. Time will tell. Tick tock!

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