"Wouldn't it be great if my enemies' worst national disaster could happen?" asked the alleged Via Rail terrorist Chiheb Esseghaier. The FBI says the man intended to artificially create a Yellowstone volcano eruption as part of a terrorist plot to ignite the supervolcano sitting underneath Yellowstone National Park. But what does the United States Geological Survey (USGS) say about the likelihood of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting?
In a related report by the Inquisitr, we asked several scientists whether or not it's possible that earthquakes induced by U.S. oil fracking could affect the Yellowstone supervolcano. This idea is not merely hypothetical since an alternative energy company is already hydro fracking a dormant volcano out west in hopes of siphoning off some of that geothermal energy being produced in mass quantities.
In 2014, rumors surrounding the Yellowstone supervolcano reached a fever pitch when conspiracy theories suggested the USGS was lying about its data and animals were supposedly seen "fleeing" the areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park. According to Vocativ, even as recently as this month the Zvezda TV channel, which is run by the Russian Defense Ministry, claimed the "super volcano under Yellowstone Park is about to explode, and the Americans need Ukraine as a place to settle after the explosion."
Perhaps it's this type of hype that had two Muslim terrorists named Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser seriously considering making the Yellowstone volcano a terrorist target. Esseghaier was studying in Montreal at the Université du Québec for his PhD, and during this time he was "waiting for the green light" from jihadist leaders while researching how best to make the supervolcano blow.
"He was passionate about the the volcano in Yellowstone. He's passionate about everything and he had done some research on the topic," recalled undercover FBI agent Tamer el-Noury according to the Stratford Beacon Herald.
Scientists have concluded that if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted it would create an explosion with the power of a nuclear weapon and spread layers of ash throughout the United States. The worldwide consequences would also be severe since the volcano could spew enough matter into the atmosphere that the Earth could dangerously plunge in temperatures similar to a nuclear winter.
In the end, Esseghaier is claimed to have told the undercover FBI agent that they gave up on triggering the Yellowstone volcano eruption since they were afraid any attempts at an attack would be discovered. They also noted the practical difficulties since the seething caldera is thousands of feet deep and would be difficult to access, never mind blow up.
Fortunately, the USGS agrees the likelihood of a Yellowstone volcano eruption is unlikely at this time. The volcano alert level is currently green and seismographs detected only 178 earthquakes in the region, with the largest registering at a magnitude 1.9 on January 20, 2015. The USGS also calculates the odds against a Yellowstone eruption as 730,000 to one on an annual basis. As a comparison, the odds of a royal flush in poker is 1 in 649,740, so perhaps that's not too comforting.