Yellowstone supervolcano is not about to blow, says park service

Well, at least it’s not going to erupt anytime soon.

Probably.

This has been a strange year at Yellowstone National Park, which indeed sits atop a supervolcano. Two months ago, extreme heat from the thermal features below caused oil to bubble on a road surface and damage a 3.3-mile loop road that takes visitors past White Dome Geyser, Great Fountain Geyser and Firehole Lake.

A couple months before that, some yahoo posted a video on YouTube purportedly showing bison in the park supposedly evacuating themselves in anticipation of an eruption at the park. Park officials patiently explained that it was not unusual to see bison running – indeed, everytime we go we see lots of running bison – and that the bison in the video were actually heading deeper into the park, not away.

But that video went viral. Over 1.5 million people have watched it and there are dozens of copycat re-posted clips. It really appealed to the conspiracy nut jobs.

Add to that the fact that the park experiences frequent earthquakes including one that measured 4.8 in March – the biggest in more than 20 years – and you can see why its been a very busy year for park officials who have finally posted a whole web page debunking the hoaxes and foolishness.

Here’s the official statement:

“There is no evidence that a catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone National Park is imminent. Current geologic activity at Yellowstone has remained relatively constant since earth scientists first started monitoring some 30 years ago. Though another caldera-forming eruption is theoretically possible, it is very unlikely to occur in the next thousand or even 10,000 years.”

So there you go.

For Jennifer and me, the thermal activity at Yellowstone is as big of a draw as the wildlife. We keep going back year after year and visiting thermal features.

“Yellowstone holds the planet’s most diverse and intact collection of geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles,” according to the National Park Service. “Its more than 300 geysers make up two-thirds of all those found on earth. Combine this with more than 10,000 thermal features comprised of brilliantly colored hot springs, bubbling mud pots and steaming fumaroles, and you have a place like no other…Yellowstone’s vast collection of thermal features provides a constant reminder of the park’s recent volcanic past. Indeed, the caldera provides the setting that allows such features as Old Faithful to exist and to exist in such great concentrations.”

If you go, be sure to pick up the newspaper that the park service gives you. Or download the free Yellowstone trip planner.

Pets are not allowed anywhere near the thermal activity. There have been incidents where they have broken away and plunged into what they thought was just a pretty pool of water.  The outcome is too gory to print.

And I shouldn’t have to say this but do resist the urge to touch the water. You will be scalded.

I say all this because the park service makes it very easy to get very close to the geysers and boiling pools.  And it should go without saying that you should not go over one of the barricades. The signs about unstable ground are accurate.

Fortunately, most of the spectators are respectful and cautious. And come away absolutely delighted by this awesome park.

We always do the lower loop first, past Old Faithful and Biscuit Basin. We budget a full a day for visiting the thermal features, camping overnight in one of the park campgrounds. Then we head out the second day for the northern and eastern loops, saving at least half a day to see the travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Here are some of our favorite pictures of Yellostone’s thermal features. Maybe I’ll do a post in the future about our favorite hikes and our favorite places to see animals at Yellowstone.

But after our third visit in three years, we continue to love the place. I really want to visit the park in the winter.

Hope you enjoy these photos.

Look at the boiling mud. It looks like an artist's paint pot
Look at the boiling mud. It looks like an artist’s paint pot

 

about 200 degrees F
This beautiful sapphire pool is about 200 degrees F

 

Small geysers like this one erupt by the hundreds every day
Small geysers like this one erupt by the hundreds every day
The color at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone's ar-northwestern Upper Geyser Basin is a photographer's delight
The color at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone’s  far northwestern Upper Geyser Basin is a photographer’s delight
There are numerous geyers that have dramatic daily, even hourly eruptions, besides Old Faithful
There are numerous geysers that have dramatic daily, even hourly eruptions, besides Old Faithful
The landscape is like nowhere else on earth
The landscape is like nowhere else on earth
Boiling. bubbling mud that emits a strong sulfur smell
Boiling. bubbling mud that emits a strong sulfur smell

18 thoughts on “Yellowstone supervolcano is not about to blow, says park service”

  1. Another entertaining and informative article, Mike. Loved the pics. Reminded me of the first and last time we were there, in 1992, when the boys were young. It’s time we went again. No doubt there will be a number of interesting changes. Having our dogs, though, as you made clear, presents a challenge. Perhaps there’s are a kennel for them while we explore?

  2. Do visit in winter. Its really beautiful. We went last winter and thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite a different experience than the summer!

  3. Sorry! This makes a great headline…but am not buying it…living on a Island with five volcanos of varying degree of dead or active…the guys in the know haven’t a clue! AND if they knew Yellowstone was gonna blow tomorrow….they wouldn’t tell you…can you say PANIC NOW!

  4. We have a family cabin just outside of West Yellowstone so we are frequent visitors to the park. Our favorite hike starts at Biscuit Basin to Old Faithful and back with a stop at the Old Faithful Inn’s Bar for lunch and a few cold ones.

  5. Look people. It’s going to happen someday. No one really knows when until it does. However, it is out of our control, so it’s a waste of time to worry about it. Just live each day to its fullest and be kind to one another. It will be an ELE, so it doesn’t matter. And remember, analysis is done to hopefully help, so don’t kill the messenger.

  6. My first real vacation after college was a trip to Yellowstone in 1965. I wonder if any of my photos from that trip match any of Mike’s. Of course, I had a little more energy then. Hiked all the way down to the Yellowstone River to take pictures of Yellowstone Falls from below. Don’t think I could do that today.

  7. Surprisingly enough Google Maps has Street View for the walkways and trails in this area. This gives you some perspective of these things. Especially the depth in the Morning Glory Pool. I know it’s not the same thing as being there but a lot of the trails are pretty cool to travel down with Google Maps.

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