Yellowstone volcano: ‘Overdue’ claim sparks USGS admission for next super eruption date | Science | News

Yellowstone volcano: 'Overdue' claim sparks USGS admission for next super eruption date | Science | News 46

The Yellowstone caldera is chillingly referred to as a supervolcano due to its ability to inflict devastation on a global level. Located below the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, the supervolcano is constantly monitored by the USGS (United States Geological Survey) for signs that a supereruption is on its way. An event of this kind has occurred three times in history – 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,000 years ago, leaving some to claim the massive eruption is overdue.

Self-proclaimed experts reach this conclusion by calculating the difference in time between each event.

However, Dr Lowenstern has rubbished such claims.

He told viewers on the USGS YouTube channel in 2014: “When you see people claiming it’s overdue, usually the numbers they come up with say the last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but it erupts every 600,000 years.

“Therefore it’s 40,000 years overdue.

“But, in fact, if you average the eruption intervals, there’s 2.1 million to 1.3 million and then another 640,000 years ago.

“If you average those numbers you come up with something that’s over 700,000 years.”

“So, in reality, even if you tried to make this argument, it wouldn’t be overdue for another 70,000 years.”

Dr Lowenstern went on to state even this calculation is questionably useful.

He added: “The other thing that is important to realise is that when they do statistics based on two eruptive intervals, they are just playing games. 

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Their website reads: “First of all, one cannot present recurrence intervals based on only two values, it would be statistically meaningless.   

“But for those who insist, let’s do the arithmetic. The three eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 0.64 million years ago.   

The two intervals are thus 0.8 and 0.66 million years, averaging to a 0.73 million-year interval.   

“Again, the last eruption was 0.64 million years ago, implying that we are still about 90,000 years away from the time when we might consider calling Yellowstone overdue for another caldera-forming eruption.   

“Nevertheless, we cannot discount the possibility of another such eruption occurring sometime in the future, given Yellowstone’s volcanic history and the continued presence of magma beneath the Yellowstone caldera.” 

More recently, researchers have been theorising what would happen if an asteroid was to strike Yellowstone National Park.

YouTube channel “Life’s Biggest Questions” told viewers: “It would need to be an asteroid the likes of which Earth hasn’t seen in millions of years to make any damage to Yellowstone.”

“If it did hit Yellowstone, then it would likely affect the volcano, likely causing a lava eruption and it would be a nightmare.”

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