The Yellowstone supervolcano has become a thing of legend in recent years, with some theorizing that it could erupt in our lifetimes and blow the United States off the map. Apparently, this kind of rampant speculation about a Yellowstone volcano eruption has become so annoying that some scientists say they hate to be questioned on this topic.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, one FEMA official claimed that a mega earthquake triggered by the Cascadia subduction zone could “toast” the coast of America. While perhaps this was an overstatement, some do fear that the emergency response plans for California, Oregon, and Washington State are not ready for the massive tsunamis that a mega quake could bring.
As it turns out, these two topics are actually related. If a major earthquake were to occur in the area surrounding Yellowstone National Park, then it is possible the Yellowstone supervolcano could be triggered. This is also a reason why some scientists believe that fracking the Yellowstone volcano for energy is not a good idea at all.
During a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and the Washington State Seismologist, and Sandi Doughton, science writer at The Seattle Times, were asked how a major earthquake like the Cascadia mega quake would affect nearby volcanoes.
“The same process of subduction — where one tectonic plate dives under another — is responsible for both our earthquake risk and the creation of our volcanoes,” Doughton replied. “In other places, like Chile, volcanic eruptions have followed major earthquakes. Several of Japan’s volcanoes became more active after their M 9 quake and tsunami in 2011. But I haven’t heard of any good evidence that Mount Rainier or other Cascade volcanoes erupted in a serious way in 1700, the year of our last megaquake.”
So, needless to say, combining a “really big one” like the Cascadia megaquake and the Yellowstone supervolcano is probably so overkill that even Hollywood’s Dwayne Johnson can’t save the day. But one Reddit reader had to ask the big question, asking whether or not there was any chance a quake in the northwest United States could erupt the Yellowstone caldera.
“Zero,” Vidale responded. “And a Yellowstone eruption is so unlikely and so prevalent among questions from the public that it is a major source of irritation to many scientists.”
Of course, the reason why the average Joe insists on asking is because a Yellowstone volcano eruption would kill at least 90,000 people instantly and then engulf the rest of the United States in layers of ash. Even the Russians have considered bombing the Yellowstone supervolcano with a bunker buster nuclear weapon in order to trigger this explosion.
Regardless, the USGS says a Yellowstone volcano eruption is so unlikely that no one should lose any sleep over the possibility.
“Given Yellowstone’s past history, the yearly probability of another caldera-forming eruption could be calculated as 1 in 730,000 or 0.00014%. However, this number is based simply on averaging the two intervals between the three major past eruptions at Yellowstone — this is hardly enough to make a critical judgment. This probability is roughly similar to that of a large (1 kilometer) asteroid hitting the Earth. Moreover, catastrophic geologic events are neither regular nor predictable.”
As a comparison, the odds of a royal flush in poker is 1-in-649,740, so perhaps that example is not too comforting. But, so far, the United States has been dealt a good hand in 2015, since the USGS also says there has been very little seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park.
[Image via Natural News]