By Ershel Dixon
There is growing concern about the prospects for recovery in areas struck by the rapid volcanic activity at Yellowstone National Park. Are the risks of such activity underestimated?
The Stirling Volcano Observatory (STORM) at University of Leicester University, UK, in collaboration with Alberta Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Assessment (Acalma) at the University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, recently published research showing that the extent of the recent increase in volcanic activity was overestimated and that it was caused by an unusually fast increase in crustal earthquakes. *** Over 100 times more earthquakes than expected had occurred in the area in the past four years. ***
OSLO, NORWAY (IDN-INPS) – The largest geothermal complex in the United States (U.S.), Yellowstone National Park, is located about 100 miles west of Yellowstone Lake in Montana and Wyoming. The Yellowstone Supervolcano sits over the lake bed, forming part of the Yellowstone Caldera. As a massive eruption would be catastrophic for the human population of the world, attention is focused on this region and understanding how to protect it from a future explosion is of national interest.
Researchers, such as those from the University of Leicester, UK and the University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, are using new and innovative techniques to study the possible impact of future Yellowstone eruptions.
This includes evaluating the effects of rapid eruptions on the human population by pinpointing the population center and distinguishing localers from nationals. *** Some of the findings indicate that increased mortality among those who live and work near an erupting volcano is significant and geographically sensitive. *** The U.S. National Park Service focuses on assessing hazards to a limited area within Yellowstone. As a rule, only localers, or residents, are evacuated, but national park visitors (except residents) are not permitted to visit the caldera area, and are evacuated at the first volcanic warning, an event that could come as early as the year 2016 or in a short period of time afterwards. ***
Such strategies may be necessary if the intensity of future eruptions over the Yellowstone region is detected more quickly. *** There have been several indicators over the last 30 years that an eruption might be imminent. First, a series of geothermal systems at Yellowstone erupted with little warning. *** There is new evidence that these earthquakes have enhanced magma pressure, and significantly increased the height of the caldera. *** ***
Acalma Earthquake Research Group