Researchers recently discovered evidence of additional historic eruptions of the Yellowstone supervolcano proving…that there is nothing to worry about. Probably. Except for the major earthquakes which they finally admit are becoming more disturbing.
Last month, the Yellowstone National Park experienced more than 300 earthquakes the largest with a 3.1 magnitude, according to the monthly update from the U.S. Geological Survey. This is a bit concerning since the dramatic scenery of the 2,200-acre national park in the western US is actually a caldera, the remains of a huge supervolcano which has erupted at least 10 times over the past 16 million years, permanently altering the geography of North America, periodically warping Earth’s climate.
But experts assure the public that the once globally threatening volcano is now past its prime and has calmed down and is going through a period of “significant decline.” Researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of California Santa Cruz published a study in Geology describing their discovery of two newly identified super-eruptions in Yellowstone’s history including the supervolcano’s largest and most cataclysmic event.
“We discovered that deposits previously believed to belong to multiple, smaller eruptions were in fact colossal sheets of volcanic material from two previously unknown super-eruptions at about 9.0 and 8.7 million years ago,” said Thomas Knott, a volcanologist at the University of Leicester and the paper’s lead author. “The younger of the two, the Grey’s Landing super-eruption, is now the largest recorded event of the entire Snake-River-Yellowstone volcanic province. It is one of the top five eruptions of all time.”
The researchers conclude that six super-eruptions took place during the Miocene geological era, a period spanning 23 to 5.3 million years ago, at an average of once every 500,000 years.
It should be noted that the last major eruption at Yellowstone was 630,000 years ago, which may lead some to think that the supervolcano is overdue. But the researchers do not understand the delay in that manner.
“Over the past three million years, the Yellowstone hotspot has experienced just two super-eruptions. “It, therefore, seems that the Yellowstone hotspot has experienced a three-fold decrease in its capacity to produce super-eruption events,” said Knott. “This is a very significant decline.”
“We have demonstrated that the recurrence rate of Yellowstone super-eruptions appears to be once every 1.5 million years,” said Knott. “The last super-eruption there was 630,000 years ago, suggesting we may have up to 900,000 years before another eruption of this scale occurs.”
Although the probability of an eruption at Yellowstone may (or may not) be small, the results of such an event would be catastrophic in the extreme. The Yellowstone Caldera is listed as the most dangerous supervolcano in existence and as such, is the most monitored volcano in the world. Experts claim that in the event of a Yellowstone eruption, an estimated 87,000 people would be killed immediately and two-thirds of the United States would become uninhabitable. Moreover, a month-long super-eruption could affect the global climate for several years. The large spew of ash into the atmosphere would block out sunlight, resulting in an artificially long and intense winter worldwide, inhibiting agriculture and leading to global starvation.
While pooh-poohing the possibility of a cataclysmic volcanic event at Yellowstone, scientists reluctantly admit that a very real danger is posed by earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater that commonly hit the site. A magnitude 7.3 that hit near Yellowstone in 1959, killing 28 people.
An article in Nature published in 2013 explained why these types of deadly earthquakes can be expected.
“This area of the western United States is being stretched and thinned by geological forces, causing the crust to fracture in large quakes. The risk of more of these quakes occurring remains high, making them a much bigger problem than any chance of a mammoth eruption,” wrote Robert Smith, a geophysicist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
In fact, just two months ago, the region near Yellowstone was hit by a wave of extraordinary quakes. Though the site usually experiences an annual average of 1,500-2,000 tremors, in 2017, a swarm of 1,900 earthquakes shook the scenic park.
This type of cataclysmic seismic activity is mentioned specifically by the prophets as an aspect of the End-of-Days process.
But Hashem God is the true God, He is the living God, and the everlasting King; at His wrath the earth trembleth, and the nations are not able to abide His indignation. Jeremiah 10:10
The prophet describes this catastrophic period as a process to purify the inhabitants of earth for the Messianic period to follow.
“And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on My name and I will answer them; I will say: ‘It is My people’ and they shall say: ‘Hashem is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9
In 2017, increased seismic activity at Yellowstone generated a great deal of concern. More than 2,300 tremors were recorded between June and September, one of the largest earthquake swarms ever recorded at the site. Though geologists assured the public that the activity was normal, another series of quakes and unusual eruptions beginning in February, increased fears that the super-volcano was waking up. An investigation revealed magma filling up in the underneath chamber of the super-volcano. In July 2018, a massive, 100 foot-wide fissure opened up in the Grand Teton National Park near Yellowstone, further increasing fears.
While claiming there was no need to worry, scientists began working on a plan to prevent an eruption. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced in 2017 that it was working on plans to drill six miles down into the volcanically active region and pump water into the magma at high pressures. The project is massive, estimated to cost $3.46 billion, and admittedly risky. The project could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. It might also trigger the release of volatile gases that would otherwise not be released.
Whether Yellowstone erupts or just shakes up the belly of the country, such and event would be just another highlight in a year that has seen pandemics, killer hornets, and rioting in the streets, making for a scene no less dramatic than what was witnessed in Egypt before the Hebrews left.