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Thread: A Spurt of Quake Activity Raises Fears in Yellowstone

  1. #1

    A Spurt of Quake Activity Raises Fears in Yellowstone

    We who live along Montana's Yellowstone River are downstream from a simmering caldera, a geologic hot spot that has become especially active recently. Indeed, Yellowstone National Park contains the floor of a gigantic volcanic cauldron, one that rises and sinks with the forces that lie beneath - hence the picturesque geysers and steam holes. But a wave of recent earthquake activity is raising fears that have their origins 642,000 years ago, when a Yellowstone "supervolcano" exploded so violently that it created the caldera itself.

    Today, such an explosion - 1,000 times more powerful than the explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980 - would not only cover most of the U.S. with ash but also throw so much dust into the atmosphere that the world's climate could change.

    Last week, geologists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) announced they had recorded a "notable swarm of earthquakes under way since Dec. 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake." The strongest tremor among the hundreds in the past week measured 3.9 on Dec. 27; most of the readings above 2.8 were felt by park employees and visitors around the lake area.

    This activity could have a whole range of consequences. In a study released last year, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said possible hazards could include hydrothermal explosions, when steam breaks through the surface and forms a crater. That has happened 26 times in the park's 127 years of record-keeping. The USGS discounted chances for cataclysmic eruption of the caldera, noting that the hot, active magma chamber below Yellowstone has turned into "largely crystallized mush."
    SOURCE

    I wouldn't mind being a part of the last generation of humans to
    inhabit Earth. War volcanic eruption!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Buck_Nastier View Post
    SOURCE

    I wouldn't mind being a part of the last generation of humans to
    inhabit Earth. War volcanic eruption!
    I wonder if something catastrophic like this could be prevented by drilling holes in strategically selected areas to release some of the pressure.

  3. #3
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    I just watched a show on volcano's last night on Discovery and they mentioned that no one knows the amount of molten lava under Yellowstone or when it might erupt. Fascinating stuff, although lethal if it really went "boom" in a mega sort of way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XYNaPSE View Post
    I wonder if something catastrophic like this could be prevented by drilling holes in strategically selected areas to release some of the pressure.
    Not a chance in hell Xynapse. It'd be like setting off some sticks of dynamite into the San Andreas Faultline to relieve the pressure from the tectonic plates.

    Nobody knows the amount of magma under Yellowstone, but it's a supervolcano, and blows on average every 600K years. The diameter of the caldera has to be measured in many tens if not hundreds of miles. I think it's been about 615K years since the last eruption...and I think the ground level has been rising by a few inches yearly, meaning magma is pushing upwards.

    It'd be the end of life as we know it, especially in the Western Hemisphere. The midwest and california where we grow our food would be under god only knows how many feet of ash.

    But I'm betting an asteroid hits us first, a miles wide/long one, so I guess we can pick our poison. Both will happen sooner or later, but I'd guess it'll be a few thousand or hundreds of thousands of years before either occurs...and by then I know we'll be able to stop an asteroid or comet. I don't know what or how we can stop supervolcanoes.

    Buck, you're twisted buddy

    But Yellowstone might erupt in not nearly as dramatic fashion as in the past, relieving the pressure in a few spots, so our posterity will have to worry about it, not us.
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