HomeOutdoorsYellowstone Volcano Eruption Not Biggest Threat at National Park, Says Expert

Yellowstone Volcano Eruption Not Biggest Threat at National Park, Says Expert

by Clayton Edwards
(photo credit: Sebastian Crespo Photography via Getty Images)

We’ve all heard the horror stories passed along in hushed tones. The Yellowstone volcano could erupt at any time. When it does, it will likely take out most of the western United States. A thick blanket of debris and ash would coat everything west of the Mississippi. The rest of the nation will suffer from the eruption in one way or another.

In short, Yellowstone holds a sleeping giant that could awaken and strike out at any time. According to one expert, that isn’t what we should be worried about. Several other catastrophic events are far more likely to take place.

After some significant seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park earlier this year, many people fear that the volcano is on the verge of erupting. That is the least of our worries according to what Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist and expert on the Yellowstone supervolcano told Express. In fact, the chances of that particular volcano erupting are pretty low.

Oppenheimer says that the chances of a major eruption of the Yellowstone volcano are less than one in a million. However, things like steam explosions are much more likely. Steam explosions are related to the geysers within the park.

When water flashes from liquid to gas too quickly, it causes an explosion. These explosions can create huge craters hundreds of meters wide. In doing so, they would launch rocks and other debris into the air. Explosions like this pose a threat to anyone in the surrounding area. These steam explosions are far more common than a major volcanic eruption.

Yellowstone Volcano Not “Overdue” for Eruption

Maybe the Yellowstone volcano eruption isn’t likely but it’s overdue, right? Wrong. In the same “Express” report, another volcanologist debunks that widely believed claim. To put it simply, he said, “Volcanoes don’t work that way. They don’t erupt on schedules.”

Volcanoes need two things to erupt. Firstly, there has to be enough magma present. Second, there has to be enough pressure to lift all of that magma to the surface. Neither of those things is present, according to the expert.

In fact, the magma chamber is only about five to fifteen percent molten. This means that most of the magma chamber is full of solid rock. Furthermore, it has gone down about one hundred feet since the last ice age. So, there’s not much magma and there is no real pressure.

Even if the Yellowstone volcano did erupt on a schedule we still wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

On this, the expert said, “Occasionally you’ll hear that there’s 600,000 years or so between Yellowstone eruptions and the last one was 631.000 years ago.

The last part of that is the only part that’s true.” He goes on to explain that there are closer to 725,000 years between eruptions in Yellowstone. So, even if the Yellowstone volcano was on a schedule, we would have almost 100,000 years before it erupts again.