July 11th, 2011 12:17 EST
Could Yellowstone National Parks Supervolcano Be The Dominance That Puts An End to Us All?
When you hear about the seventh wonder of the world Yellowstone National Park is probably the seventh wonder of the world as its own entity. I have never personally been but have seen many pictures and hear many great stories about Yellowstone National Park from other people who have had the luxury of being a part of the great beauty of the park.
One of the most fascinating elements of Yellowstone is not only the large grizzly bears that invade many camp sites of tourist that brave to sleep out in the wilderness at night but the geysers that spew hot steam and boiling water many feet into the air. The fascination of this has warranted scientist to go beyond the normal hypothesis of this is just a part of the wonder and beauty of the national park to go into intense study of what really causes the geysers to erupt.
The answer is volcanic activity below Yellowstone National Parks surface. The name given to this is Caldera which is the parks geographic structure. The name of the supervolcano that lies beneath the surface is known as Caldron. The prediction by scientist is that Caldron could blow its lid or in laymen term erupt like a normal volcano. If this does happen the results could be devastating because of the amount of volcanic ash that could cover the Continental United States which if it ever does happen could clog the atmosphere enough to block out much needed sun light which would disrupt the global climate and again would be a domino effect because as a result there would soon be extinctions that would follow.
This is not the first time something like this as ever happened. About 640,000 years ago, a full-scale eruption like this prediction occurred and another one before that occurred about 1.3 million years ago and one more recently which was of a smaller scale than the other two eruptions occurred about 70,000 years ago. Yes, all these eruptions occurred in the era of the dinosaurs but does that mean that sine these eruptions occurred a long time ago that another eruption is not due to happen any time soon?
Writing this story takes me back to when the Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in the late 1970s. I was living in Northridge, California and remember the volcanic ash from that eruption was so numerous and thick that it spread from Washington State to California in a short period of time and it was so thick that it blocked out sunlight and covered the area as if it was a pillar of thick dust on a window ledge.
Scientist have established a Volcanic Observatory in Yellowstone National Park. It is currently run by the United States Geographical Survey in conjunction with the national park itself and with the University of Utah. There is a team of volcanologists that continuously monitor the rumblings beneath the surface at Yellowstone. All of the findings are streamed on-line. So, far everything that has been found and studies all points to the future big eruption that is predicted to possibly happen.
Three of the key ingredients that make-up the core of clues that there is volcanic activity in the area are what is known as Earthquake Swarms Earthquake Swarms are a series of earthquakes which lead to ground deformation and hydrothermal steam explosions. A good clue about hydrothermal steam explosions that are present at Yellowstone is of course the exploding geysers.
All of these key ingredients that make up the overall clue that volcanic activity is present beneath the surface all are present in Yellowstone National Park which is a very good indication that it may only be a matter of time when the supervolcano or Caldron erupts.
This is also a fascination of science to be able to study volcanic activity and keep learning about this phenomenon. With all the volcanoes around the world the one at Yellowstone is probably the best one and easiest to study because it is right on the door step of the volcanic observatory and lets scientist virtually stand right on top of it.
The area of Yellowstone National Park has always been an area of many Earthquake Swarms which Scientist have always studied and monitored so for now there is not enough concern to worry about a definite pending eruption, the last one happened about 70,000 years ago and the area is common for earthquake swarms and round deformation but Scientist continue to monitor this.
E-mail sent out by some of the volcanologists that have been monitoring this activity for five years at the observatory in Yellowstone wrote that basically there has not been substantial volcanic activity there between about 170.000 years ago and up to the last major eruption 70,000 years ago and there is really no way to predict future eruptions. Most of the time scientists predict future volcanic eruptions by how many times there has been an eruption in the past. We know the last one occurred 70,000 years ago so really the information to predict the next one would not be accurate enough to do so.
It`s like this, anything can happen at any time, you never know what the next eruption will be like or when it will happen if it does in our lifetime but the one thing that remains the same, the scientific study of volcanoes is fascinating to scientist and the supervolcano sitting underneath the terrain at Yellowstone could turn out to be the one that ended it all.