A scientist warned that the Yellowstone supervolcano in the US is in danger of erupting anytime. Given its current status, the scientist claimed that an eruption could even happen next week.
The Yellowstone Caldera, which is a massive volcano located in the Yellowstone National Park, measures about 55 by 72 kilometres. Since the last time the supervolcano had a major eruption was 640,000 years ago, many scientists believe that it is already due for another powerful explosion.
Yellowstone's Eruption Cycle
According to scientists, each time the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, it causes dramatic changes to its surroundings. Based on geological data, Yellowstone's major eruption happened 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago. Its latest major eruption is credited for creating the main Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff, a natural formation composed of porous rock volcanic ash in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
Data collected on the history of the supervolcano revealed that its major eruptions occurred once every 600,000 to 800,000 years. Since the last time Yellowstone erupted was within, many scientists believe that it is already due for another violent explosion.
Yellowstone's Possible Eruption
One of the scientists who believe that Yellowstone could erupt soon is a former university professor, Ron Smith. During a lecture held this week at the Dixie University in Utah, Smith discussed the Yellowstone supervolcano and its current status. Although it's hard to predict when it will erupt, Smith noted that it's possible that an eruption could happen within days or thousands of years.
"Yellowstone has gotten a lot of publicity because of the severity of a supervolcano and the effect it would have on the Earth," he said during the lecture according to Express. "We cannot say that Yellowstone is overdue. It is probably going to blow again but it could well be 500,000 years from now or a week from Tuesday."
Realistic Eruption Scenario
The US Geological Survey (USGS), on the other hand, assured the public that the chances of an explosive eruption happening within the foreseeable future are extremely low. The agency noted that if Yellowstone does erupt, it would most likely cause a hydrothermal eruption and not a volcanic one. As explained by the USGS, hydrothermal eruptions occur in shallow reserves of hot water and steam. They are generally less explosive than volcanic eruptions.