The deaths of five bison in Yellowstone National Park were caused by toxic gases seeping from steam vents, according to park officials, who noticed the dead animals on March 10 at Norris Geyser Basin, a concentrated area of geysers, hot springs and steam vents. Is this more evidence that Yellowstone is about to blow?
Sandra Hughes of CBS News says scientists are still trying to understand what could happen at Yellowstone, by figuring out what happened there in the past. Researcher Lisa Morgan, who is studying the park's biggest lake, says "It is kind of the last unmapped frontier in Yellowstone National Park." Using sonar, she's identified a massive bulging dome under the water that?s the size of seven football fields. The only other underwater dome in Yellowstone was the site of a major explosion. She says, "The most extreme event, which occurred 13,800 years ago, went about as far as five miles away from [there]."
Almost 14,000 years ago, that lake suddenly shot out boiling water, steam and rocks. Despite being a national park visited by 3 million tourists annually, park ranger Hank Heasler says, "The bottom line is we still don't know all that much about what's going on at Yellowstone." Yellowstone is on top of one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The park contains more than 10,000 vents, along with geysers and hot springs.
Heasler monitors the situation at Yellowstone constantly. He closed a trail near the Norris Geyser last summer because the ground became boiling hot?hot enough to burn right through the soles of your shoes. This is another ominous sign. He says, "If the temperatures here gets above boiling, then we know that there's a potential for the water to just rapidly flash to steam and cause one of these hydrothermal explosions."
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