A rumor that the Yellowstone supervolcano is about to erupt has been racing around the internet, but park officials say that there is not the slightest sign that this is going to happen, and, as can be seen in the Old Faithful live webcam, no evacuation is under way. The rumor started when a side road melted due to thermal activity. However, significant magma movement would precede an eruption, and a check of seismometers reveals that there is no earthquake activity in the area that suggests that this is happening. Because of the nature of the park's geology, there are frequent small earthquakes in the area, but nothing like the swarm that would suggest magma movement under the surface.
Park officials became concerned when they began receiving emails and phone calls from members of the public who had been worried by the rumors. The park has issued this statement:
“Though we love doing research at YVO, we prefer it when the research is on topics geological rather than the origin of false rumors. Nevertheless, we have received enough concerned emails and phone calls that we’ve spent some time tracking down a few of the statements made on various ‘alternative Internet news sources.’”
1) First, everyone should know that geological activity, including earthquakes and ground uplift/subsidence is well within historical norms and seismicity is actually a bit low at present.
2) Concern over road closures is much overblown. There’s been one road closure of a small side road – just over three miles long – that was closed for two days. As one can imagine, it is not easy to maintain roads that pass over thermal areas where ground temperatures can approach those of boiling water. Roads at Yellowstone often need repair because of damage by thermal features as well as extreme cold winter conditions.
3) The park has not been evacuated. This one is pretty easy to verify by everyone. If the Old Faithful webcam shows people, or if news articles are coming out about a hobbyist’s remote control helicopter crashing into a hot spring, Yellowstone is certainly open for business.
4) No volcanologists have stated that Yellowstone is likely to erupt this week, this month or this year. In one recent article, a name was attributed to a “senior volcanologist”, but that person does not appear to exist, and a geologist with that name assures us that he did not supply any quotes regarding Yellowstone.
5) Finally, we note that those who’ve kept track of Yellowstone over the past decade or so, have seen a constant stream of “predictions” regarding imminent eruptions at Yellowstone. Many have had specific dates in mind, none had a scientific basis, and none have come true.
If there is every a serious threat of a volcanic explosion at Yellowstone, Unknowncountry.com will certainly cover it. Right now, Old Faithful is just that--faithful.