Yellowstone volcano eruption update: Current status of large US Supervolcano - is it due to erupt?
Yellowstone Volcano is the subject of constant speculation over when it will next erupt
Yellowstone Caldera, commonly known as Yellowstone Supervolcano, has been subject to constant apocalyptic speculation over its eruption date. Even before sci-fi disaster flick, 2012, terrified viewers with a CGI rendition, many believed the eruption of Yellowstone Supervolcano was imminent - with the Caldera bursting roughly every 700,000 years.
The fallout from such an event has been well documented. In 2014, an academic paper said it would bury surrounding US states in volcanic ash and have detrimental effects on the global climate.
But it's important to remember, the 700,000-year interval is not a hard and fast rule. In fact, it's entirely possible Yellowstone might never erupt again and needless to say, the United States Geology Survey is constantly monitoring the sleeping giant.
But what is the current status of the Yellowstone Supervolcano now? Here's everything you need to know.
What is the current status of Yellowstone Supervolcano?
According to the USGS, the current status and alert level of Yellowstone Supervolcano is currently 'normal'. The website states that a 'normal' alert level means the "Volcano is in typical background, noneruptive state or, after a change from a higher level, volcanic activity has ceased and volcano has returned to noneruptive background state."
In October alone, the USGS recorded a swarm of 42 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region but this is still considered 'normal activity' according to the US government agency. in fact, there are usually over a thousand earthquakes per year at Yellowstone.
One indicator Scientists use to determine whether a volcano will erupt involves the rise of magma toward the surface. But as USGS research has found, Yellowstone's magma chamber only holds 5%-15% molten, meaning it's possible there's not even enough magma beneath the caldera to cause an eruption.
Magma consists of rocks and crystals at varying stages of solidity. If a volcano holds more melted or liquid magma, the more likely it is to erupt. In 2022, researchers discovered Yellowstone's more shallow chamber - which is located three to ten miles beneath the surface - is more likely to hold 16% to 20% of melted magma.
The figure is more than the 5%-15% scientists initially believed was in the chamber but still does not indicate the volcano is anywhere close to eruption. For a volcano to erupt, scientists believe there needs to be roughly about 35% to 50% of melted magma.