Yellowstone has been going through some uncommon changes, and it has a lot of people worried about what that really means. The supervolcano that has been lying dormant for centuries has caused melting roads and created quite the panic.
Areas of the park have been shut down because of the roads becoming a "soupy mess" according to park spokesman Dan Hottle. This is due to the massive magma reservoir that lurks benieth the park. The last eruption was around 640,000 years ago.
Is Yellowstone about to erupt, and what it would mean for us if it did.
No one knows whether or not the supervolcano is fixing to erupt, but it is definitely showing activity that it has not shown in previous years that lead many scientist to believe a seismic event may be about to occur.
Jake Lowenstern is the USGS geologist who carries the label as scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.He says contrary to what Hollywood has led many to believe a Yellowstone super eruption would not endanger the entire US nor would it cause the calamity than many would expect.
Lowenstern believes the lava flow would be limited to the Park and possibly the immediate surrounding area up to a 40 mile radius. Where liquid rock is concerned, most of what does not go into the atmosphere will land back on the maw of the volcano.
The danger will actually be in the air because of ejecta. Rather than the fiery furnace many would expect, it would be the cold ash that proves deadly. Lowenstern said enough ash raining down would be nothing short of "disastrous." This is primarily what would happen for about a 500 mile radius, maybe a little more, if a super eruption at Yellowstone were to occur.
People in New York city would definitely have to dust their vehicles. Flights would halt and planes would be grounded. Midwestern farms would be polluted, and so would the Mississippi river. A super eruption of the infamous Yellowstone supervolcano would be comparable to an industrial accident. Rather than a horrific fiery death, we would see many of our waterways and food sources spoiled by a toxic sludge. The global effect would be cooler temperatures lasting a few years due to the released gasses.
An earthquake would be one of the first tale tell signs that an eruption is about to kick off. Lowenstern said, "we'd need some big ones in the weeks or months leading up to the eruption." This is something that would come with plenty of warning signs.
Lowenstern also said that "though an eruption could come at any time, it would probably not be a super eruption; but more likely eruption is going to be a lava flow,and a small event." He says that at the moment, even with melting roads, there is not enough evidence to believe an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano is in the near future.
Park officials say this is one of the park's busiest months, and the hot spot melting roads and closing parts of the park has caused quite a stir. He said that "the liquefying of pavement that is now occurring is extreme and unusual." Roads are closed to keep tourists safe and vehicles from being stuck.
Dan Hottle said“It basically turned the asphalt into soup and the gravel road into oatmeal.” Hottle also said "the roads between Old Faithful and Madison Junction has been dangerously compromised, and the danger of stepping through what appears to be solid soil into boiling-hot water was high.
All roads in Yellowstone are back open, and the park is operating as normal with no danger of a super eruption, at least in the near future. Again, it would come with plenty of warnings and signs so that people would be able to prepare if one were coming.