If you’re looking for information on the Yellowstone volcano, you’ve come to the right place. There are several signs that an eruption is likely shortly. For example, there are currently magma domes forming within the Yellowstone caldera. As the crowns get closer to the surface, the possibility of an eruption becomes higher.
The odds of an eruption in any given year are 0.00014 percent
The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates a 0.00014 percent chance of a Yellowstone super-eruption happening in any given year. That is considerably smaller than the chances of civilization-destroying asteroids hitting the Earth.
However, a Yellowstone super-eruption would be a catastrophic event. An earthquake would likely precede it, but it could also lead to a global temperature drop of 21 degrees and millions of deaths. In addition, it would cause significant damage to the environment, including destroying food and water sources in North America.
A Yellowstone-style eruption would spread a ten-foot layer of molten ash across the United States. It would also create sulfur aerosols that reflect sunlight into the atmosphere and cool the planet.
This is the same effect that the Gargantuan Toba eruption did 74,000 years ago. However, the planet was cooled enough to affect crop yields during this eruption.
The odds of a Yellowstone-style eruption are significantly lower than those of a super-eruption by a half-mile asteroid. But that doesn’t mean that the USGS is wrong about the next outbreak.
Magma domes are forming in the yellowstone caldera
Two resurgent magma domes are developing in the Yellowstone caldera. One crown is located just west of Yellowstone Lake, while the other is just north of Yellowstone Lake.
Magma domes are cinder cones, lava domes, maars, and stratovolcanoes. Each type of lava contains various gases, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2).
Magma is a partially molten rock from below the Earth’s surface. It has a porphyritic texture, a combination of coarse-grained minerals surrounded by fine-grained material. The porphyritic texture indicates that the magma has undergone a multi-stage cooling history.
Volcanic activity in the Yellowstone region has been intense in recent geologic times. There have been three significant explosive eruptions and numerous more minor eruptions. As a result of these eruptions, the largest caldera in the United States, Yellowstone, was formed.
Since its earliest eruption, the Yellowstone volcanic system has produced over a thousand km3 of rhyolite. This lava has partially filled the caldera floor. However, the underlying magma is still present, allowing for the uplift and subsidence of the bed.
Signs of an impending eruption
A recent study in the Science journal has uncovered more magma under Yellowstone than previously thought. This information could help scientists forecast future eruptions.
The study used a new technique to map out the location of the melt. It also looked at different scenarios involving the supply of magma.
If a major eruption is due, it would likely be followed by a series of large earthquakes. These are common in restless calderas.
Other geological activity around the Yellowstone region includes small tremors. Small earthquakes aren’t a sign of an imminent eruption but a sign of ground deformation.
Another indicator is a change in the number of gases emitted from the ground. This can increase 10-fold in a short period.
Typically, signs of an impending eruption at Yellowstone include earthquake swarms and rapid ground deformation. Changes in the water chemistry of nearby rivers often accompany these.
Scientists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory constantly monitor the region for signs of an impending eruption. They use a network of seismographs and satellite-based techniques to detect ground deformation.
In the past, the Yellowstone volcano erupted three times, including a super-eruption. This was one of the most significant eruptions in Earth’s history. However, scientists aren’t sure if a similar eruption is imminent.
The last significant lava flow at Yellowstone was 70,000 years ago, but two other resurgent magma domes are now forming inside the caldera. These domes are formed when a shallow magma chamber oozes through cracks in the crust.
A large underground reservoir of molten rock, called the mantle plume, has been found. It may be as close as three to eight miles beneath Mallard Lake Dome and is believed to have been active for many millions of years.
Although the Yellowstone caldera system is unusually active, it’s not likely to explode anytime soon. But recent findings do provide scientists with an improved understanding of the subsurface conditions.
Magma chambers are located beneath the caldera and are filled with hot, molten rock under extreme pressure. They eventually erupt when the ground above the room begins to collapse.