Like clockwork, rumors of an upcoming eruption in Yellowstone National Park have started to pop up in time for spring.
In April, the U.S. Geological Survey reported swarms of earthquakes in the area. Some have taken this to mean that the supervolcano has awoken and is ready to lay waste to the entire world.
However, people should not be alarmed. A major eruption likely will not happen any time soon.
'The Big One' Is Not Coming
Yellowstone is a supervolcano, which means that it has erupted explosively, spewing at least 1,000 cubic kilometers of volcanic materials and producing a crater called a caldera. Yellowstone has experienced three major eruptions during its lifetime and the last one took place around 640,000 years ago.
It has remained active through lava flows and hydrothermal blasts. According to the USGS, there is magma beneath the caldera now which means that a volcanic eruption within or near the national park is imminent.
"Yellowstone's two-million-year history of volcanism, the copious amount of heat that still flows from the ground, the frequent earthquakes, and the repeated uplift and subsidence of the caldera floor also testify to the continuity of magmatic processes beneath Yellowstone and point to the possibility of future volcanism and future earthquake activity," a statement from the agency reads.
However, the USGS reiterated that there is no threat of eruption within or near Yellowstone National Park right now or in the near future. Scientists regularly monitor volcanic activity using seismographs, which detects earthquakes) and GPS, which detects ground motion. If Yellowstone is about to erupt, they will know.
Swarms Of Earthquake In April
Throughout April, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations recorded 57 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park. None of these earthquakes, including the largest which was magnitude 2.6, were felt by humans
This has been the basis of a new rumor warning about a major eruption from the supervolcano; an article headline claimed that the earthquakes "could be a sign of ERUPTION."
However, these swarms of earthquakes are normal occurrences at Yellowstone. It does not mean that "The Big One" is coming.
In February 2018, 200 earthquakes were recorded over the course of two weeks. In 2017, an even larger number of earthquakes were experienced in the region.
There are two possible causes of earthquake swarms: a shift in major tectonic plates or movements of water, gas, or magma beneath the surface. In the case of Yellowstone, it is the latter. The supervolcano has plenty of fluids and gases beneath the ground.
"This is what Yellowstone does; this is Yellowstone being Yellowstone," assured Michael Poland, a scientist at the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, to Live Science last year. "It experiences swarms all the time."