Eruption at Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake eruption, April 1, 2009

Well, after all the seismicity and uplift at Yellowstone caldera over the last few years, something finally happened. Early this morning, without much warning, an eruption occurred in Yellowstone Lake (see above) and sent steam and ash up 50,000 feet above the park. Luckily, no one was injured or killed in the event as we’re well ahead tourist season, but it is unknown how this might affect access to the park for this summer.

Now, whether this eruption is really just the caldera “letting off steam” so to speak, possibly in the form of a phreatic eruption or a hydrothermal explosion, it is unclear. No samples of the ash have been collected yet to see if its juvenile, but this is the first real signs of life in the “supervolcano” in almost 70,000 years. If this is more than just a hydrothermal event, then we need to be prepared for almost anything from the eruption of new rhyolite domes in Yellowstone Lake to another Huckleberry Ridge-type eruption.

For more on the status at Yellowstone, try here and here.

(Oh yes … and Happy April Fools Day!)

UPDATE 4/1/2009 at 3 PM Pacific: So, most people got my little April Fool’s Joke about a minor Yellowstone Lake eruption that went along with a pile of other ScienceBlog pranks. Mostly, I tried to think of an eruption at which volcano would get people most “excited” and Yellowstone was at the very top of the list. Hopefully, most of you can take a joke, even on a science blog, especially one that tries to cut through the misinformation on volcanic eruptions. No worries, this is a once-a-year type entry. The other 364 days of the year, expect (mostly) reliable volcano information and analysis. Sit back, relax and chuckle, because if an eruption at Yellowstone were to actually happen, we’d have wall-to-wall coverage of that sort of event.


  1. #1 Bruce S.
    April 1, 2009

    hey, it’s all just a government plot to wipe out Detroit without any political backlash.

  2. #2 llewelly
    April 1, 2009

    I heard the boom. I live In West Valley City, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s right, I *heard* that eruption, in Utah!

  3. #3 volcanophile
    April 1, 2009

    This morning, at 8:42 AM local time, another explosion occurred, this time a larger one, probably phreatomagmatic. This eruption generated a 80000-ft high ash-rich plume, and noise from it was heard as far as 50-km around. Witnesses report of a strong yellowish-red glow from the base of the column and “clouds” of water vapor expanding in all directions from the point of emission.

    Early examination of the products being erupted shows them to contain juvenile basaltic scoriaceous bombs and ash, alongside with heavily-fragmented particles originating from magma-water interaction .

  4. #4 Paulino
    April 1, 2009

    How many times, in one month, can Bobby Jindal be made to look like a fool?

  5. #5 volcanista
    April 1, 2009

    Well done, you totally had me for like 10 minutes.

  6. #6 Callan Bentley
    April 1, 2009

    Ouch — before coffee, it’s hard to remember what date it is! I was getting all excited… Nice one!

  7. #7 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    April 1, 2009

    On the plus side, all that ash reflecting sunlight will diminish the whole global warming thing, right?

    A really sad (strange? sick? geoperverted?) little part of me would love to see a nice eruption at Yellowstone. Maybe not a supervolcano, but a nice series of eruptions lasting, oh, the rest of my life would be nice.

  8. #8 Ed Kohut
    April 1, 2009

    Reminds me of this one, which sad to say I am old enough to remember:

    Now Great Blue Hill is Quincy Granite and Blue Hills Porphyry, so it was likley connected to volcanoes…back in the Silurian or so!

  9. #9 eklemetti
    April 1, 2009

    Yup folk, this is a joke … Just a little April Fools fun. As Homer might say “God bless those pagans.”

  10. #10 lara
    April 1, 2009

    AHHH!!! I just called my husband and interrupted his meeting before I read the final sentence! We were just discussing ancient phreatic events at Yellowstone this morning as my son was watching a History Channel show about Yellowstone. Wish I’d have thought of this one myself.

  11. #11 Mariek
    April 1, 2009

    Good one, Erik! I passed this around to some volcanologist colleagues and they got a good chuckle out of it!

  12. #12 Gerhardus
    April 1, 2009

    ?? yellowstone eruption…… then I checked the time it was posted and come to another conclusion …Think Mr E K needs some sleep. Its 6.30 in the morning on my side of the planet and the people in the US is still on yesterday LOL talking about jumping the gun

    Good one to wake up some of the sleepy readers

  13. #13 gg
    April 1, 2009

    I’m grabbing my bikini now, and heading down for a dip in the hot lake water. I’ve heard the snow monkeys are already there.

  14. #14 doug
    April 1, 2009

    Wow, what a day! Stromboli online is reporting lava fountains 3000m high at Etna…

  15. #15 Paulino
    April 1, 2009

    I totaly, uterly fell for it. I spent 2 hours spreading this news around util some laughed saying “Ha, good April’s fool joke.” and after a 2 second pause I said “Today is April’s 1st?”

    I hope a Yellowstone lava bomb hit this blog!


  16. #16 Michael D. Barton
    April 1, 2009

    If Yellowstone did go, I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this comment I am sure (I’m in Bozeman, MT)…

  17. #17 Patrick
    April 2, 2009

    If Yellowstone did go, I couldn’t bear to think what it would do to the animals. I guess surviving rangers would just have to elk out a living doing something else. (I kept saying to myself “Self, why would Dr. Erik include a cartoon of Mr. T while discussing a rare event like this?”) Excuse me deers, I am off to moose my hair.

  18. #18 Jeff
    April 2, 2009

    I’d like to say it was funny, but given my paranoia and OCD on the subject, it wasn’t.

  19. #19 Skeets
    April 8, 2009

    …and on another note, Grand Prismatic Pool has turned into what is being described as a “super geyser” eructing 700 to 800 feet in the air every 15 minutes!! 🙂

  20. #20 callen
    February 18, 2010

    what did the caldera look like before eruption?

  21. #21 Robert Richards
    July 16, 2010

    Why is it that I have never heard of this eruption or of any type in the last 70,000 years before now, when I accidently stumbled onto this site. I would think somethng like this would have been mentioned on the new, after all, even here in Wisconsin we could still be under 6 to 8 inches
    of ash from the big one whenever it comes.

  22. #22 Kultsi, Askola, FI
    July 16, 2010

    @ #21 –
    That’s because eruptions of this type only happen on the first day of April, any year…

  23. #23 Henrik, Swe
    July 17, 2010

    …and every month in the tabloid press, on-line or paper, plus continuously in the minds of certain segments of the population. To be honest, as I read it my first thought was that everyone would start thelling scientists “we told you so”, so I guess I too suffer from the “Yellowstone expectansiitis” to some extent. :doh:

  24. #24 Carl, Intl
    July 17, 2010

    But it would be fun if Yellowstone actually blew on april first. Noone would ever believe and half of the US would never be evacuated on time out of thinking it was a hoax:)

    The chance of that happening is about as high as 1 in 25.500.000 in a given year, obviously on the assumption that Yellowstone actually still can erupt.

    Still convinced I am 2 persons?

  25. #25 Henrik, Swe
    July 17, 2010

    Not any longer, thx!

    Btw, which Carl am I speaking to? :mischief:

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