Yellowstone: the return?


Everyone loves a “supervolcano”*. According to a recent report, Los Angeles will be erupting from underneath Yellowstone Caldera (Wyoming). OK, not really, but apparently there has been 7 cm of uplift underneath the footprint of the Yellowstone Caldera since 2004, which is a pretty good amount of uplift. Whether this uplift is caused by new magma intruding, volcanic gases collecting or hydrothermally spawned (however, in the article, we are to believe these unnamed “researchers” that it is magma). I’ll keep an eye out for more on this, but it sounds like this is just another “more uplift!” sort of report.

* you know, I am still pretty ambivalent towards this buzzword “supervolcano”. Really, the term has only been around, or at least in popular use, for the last 10 year or so, and it just smacks of media jargon. There already is a word for volcanoes that erupt this much material in large eruptions. They’re called “calderas”. Sure, it doesn’t have the same visceral reaction as “supervolcano,” but it also doesn’t sound like something from a Jerry Bruckheimer film.


  1. #1 bloodfist
    May 27, 2008

    Has anyone tried to figure out if the 7cm can be accounted for by isostatic balancing resulting from the added weight of 40 billion RV’s clogging the surrounding roads?

  2. #2 ewklemetti
    May 27, 2008

    Thats all we need, eh? Anthropogenic uplift!

  3. #3 Gerhardus
    February 6, 2009

    Redoubt interest me in a huge way. (maybe the destructive power :) ). Then while paging throw the websites for facts from scientist about Yellowstone I realized that they don’t even agree on the last eruption date. Some stated that it was about 640000 years ago and then some stated it’s about 620000 years ago, but all agree that Yellowstone blows it’s own stomach out every 60000 years. I realized maybe they are both a little out, maybe the 600000 year mark is still coming. By looking at the facts/info on this and other sites maybe Yellowstone is in it’s final decade before the 600000 mark

  4. #4 Erik Klemetti
    February 6, 2009


    The problem with the “every 600,000″ argument is that it is an average over only 3 major eruptions. That is not much of a dataset to definitely claim a recurrence interval. Especially considering…

    The dating methods for many of these eruptions have errors on them in the 1,000 to 10,000s of years, so the various dates offered by the people to research Yellowstone are the product of both changing methods of dating, reinterpretation of the dates and errors on the method. The methods we have for geochronology are far from perfect, so with a date that is 600,000 years ago, we’re happy to be within a few thousand years of the actual date (which, unless we get a time-traveling deLorean, we will likely never know).