Scientists dismiss claims that Yellowstone volcano about to erupt

Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:57pm EDT

The Yellowstone River winds through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

The Yellowstone River winds through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

(Reuters) - Yellowstone National Park assured guests and the public on Thursday that a super-volcano under the park was not expected to erupt anytime soon, despite an alarmist video that claimed bison had been seen fleeing to avoid such a calamity.

Yellowstone officials, who fielded dozens of calls and emails since the video went viral this week following an earthquake in the park, said the video actually shows bison galloping down a paved road that leads deeper into the park. (To see the video, click here)

"It was a spring-like day and they were frisky. Contrary to online reports, it's a natural occurrence and not the end of the world," park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said.

Assurances by Yellowstone officials and government geologists that the ancient super-volcano beneath the park is not due to explode for eons have apparently done little to quell fears among the thousands who have viewed recent video postings of the thundering herd.

Commentary with one of the clips by a self-described survivalist wearing camouflage, dark sunglasses and a black watch cap suggests the wildlife exodus may be tied to "an imminent eruption here at Yellowstone."

The 4.8 magnitude earthquake that struck early Sunday near the Norris Geyser Basin in the northwest section of Yellowstone, which spans 3,472 square miles of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, caused no injuries or damages and did not make any noticeable alterations to the landscape, geologists said.

Though benign by seismic standards, it was the largest to rattle Yellowstone since a 4.8 quake in February 1980 and it occurred near an area of ground uplift tied to the upward movement of molten rock in the super-volcano, whose mouth, or caldera, is 50 miles long and 30 miles wide.

But neither the quake, the largest among hundreds that have struck near the geyser basin in the last seven months, nor the uplift suggest an eruption sooner than tens of thousands of years, said Peter Cervelli, associate director for science and technology at the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Science Center in California.

"The chance of that happening in our lifetimes is exceedingly insignificant," said Cervelli, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Cervelli said the area of uplift that scientists have been tracking since August is rising at a rate of between 10 centimeters (4 inches) and 15 centimeters a year. Geologists who tracked uplift in the same area from 1996 to 2003 also saw elevated seismic activity, he said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Orlofsky)

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Comments (14)
PinLA wrote:
The buffalo are not fleeing the volcano. They are fleeing the Park Service rangers! The Park Service plans to capture 1500 buffalo this year, ship them to a slaughterhouse, and turn them into canned dog food. First we had museums that kill animals (Copenhagen), and now our national parks are doing the same thing!!!

Apr 03, 2014 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DavidinWY wrote:
I live within 50 miles of Yellowstone Lake, and I’m pretty up-to-date with the news from the scientific community, especially volcanism and geology. Even though I live within Hazard Zone 1 (the 90% expected to die zone), I have more to fear from lightning then from lava-bombs or pyroclastic flows! Frankly, this winter has been so cold we could use the added warmth. It seems every few years we get some nut-job proclaiming the end times are here. We caught them all off guard when nothing happened out of the ordinary when the Mayan calendar ended in 2012, but all good thing will eventually come to an end and at least we might get Hollywood to come out with an epic (oh right! Can we say NOAH, perfectly timed my masked friend!) film. I smell something’s up when some guy wanders off the trail with a camera crew, and it’s worse then what those bison are leaving on the trail if you know what I mean!

Apr 04, 2014 1:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mabolzich wrote:
So long, fair well, auf wiedersehen, good bye, when this thing blows we’re all a gonna die! Ta, ta, ta ,ta ,ta ,ta, ta, ta. Ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta.

Apr 04, 2014 1:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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