Eruptions

The Great Earthquake Swarm at Yellowstone that ushered in 2010 seems to be dying down, at least according to the USGS earthquake reports and analysis of the seismicity by the University of Utah and YVO. The daily updates on the earthquake swarms by Utah has ended. Looking at the earthquake over the last 7 days (see below), you can notice three things quickly: (1) since 2/6, there are much fewer quakes compared to a week and a half ago; (2) any sign the earthquakes were getting shallower seems to have ended; and (3) they seem to be generally smaller (< M1.5). Now, what does that mean? Like many of us had been saying, this swarm is just the everyday business of being an active caldera system – the crust will adjust along ring fractures in/around the caldera, the crust will rise/fall depending on the degassing magma or changes in hydrothermal circulation (that can be dictated by meteoric water – rain/snow), and even some movement of melt in the magmatic system deeper in the crust.

i-8014aa19370f3f304d7a1dd4796c23ac-YC_211.jpg
Seismicity in Yellowstone caldera from 2/5-2/11. Note that no earthquakes have occurred in the swarm area since 2/8. The error on the depths is ~0.5-1 km.

All these things can and will happen without eruption at Yellowstone – double (triply?) so without a so-called “supervolcanic” eruption. Not to come down on the hyperbole out there about Yellowstone, but getting overly worried about every earthquake swarm we see at the caldera is the equivalent of running for the tornado shelter every time you see a cloud. Sure, the cloud could get worse and produce a tornado, but the chances are very small. In the same way, earthquakes could be the predecessor for an eruption at Yellowstone, but chances are small (and likely minute when it comes to a giant eruption). We learn something new about the caldera all the time, whether it be what these earthquake swarms mean, what state the magma chamber might be, how the hydrothermal circulation changes – and I’d be the first to admit we only know a fraction of what is to be known about Yellowstone, but I know the folks at YVO and Utah take the threat seriously, so when these events happen, they know what to watch. You can count on that.

Comments

  1. #1 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Erik, If you had told a meteorologist 6 or even 3 months ago that this winter would be the kind of snow and cold event that we have experienced here in the states, they would have called you crazy…..They would have said based on our calculations and experience….that is impossible. How do I know this? Because that is what several of them told me in online chats as far back as last April and again in September…even when I mentioned it again in November. Now they all are busy trying to explain what happened, as I wait here next to the ocean in Northwest Florida…for an ice/snow storm to hit my home.

    I know you guys try to write me off as some kind of 2012 nut, someone who doesn’t really know anything. Someone who has just watched a couple of documentaries about Yellowstone and got a little worried. Sorry but I have been watching Yellowstone for a LONG time….way before any documentary ever came out on the subject. I read every relevant paper that comes down the pipes about Yellowstone….Look at the date on that paper I posted, you will see the ink wasn’t even dry on it when I brought it to the attention of this forum. I was able to do this because I knew a paper like that was coming out sooner or later. I knew that because the amount of heat and uplift at Yellowstone can not be completely explained as just hydrothermal.

    Yellowstone is a VERY BIG gun, according to that paper I posted…maybe even bigger and more volatile than we ever thought possible…That VERY BIG gun is cocked and loaded…just waiting for the right quake to pull the trigger. We can’t stop it and I know this…but we can make more plans for what to do when it happens…plans that might save a few lives….instead of just saying “see look nothing happened so everything is fine”. That paper and a couple of others…not any movie or documentary is what worries me. That paper is just one reason why I will never see an earthquake swarm at Yellowstone the same way again. I hope…I really…really…really hope I am wrong…I hope that paper is wrong….I hope in my lifetime we never see anything happen at Yellowstone. Erik you can cut and paste eruption and destruction in place of cold and storms but I will tell you what I told the meteorologists at the end of last summer….”The cold and storms will come….in spite of what your your experience and calculations may say.”

    “September 1900. At a time of boundless optimism, in a city poised for greatness, Isaac Cline puts his faith in science-and 37,000 are left unprepared for the deadliest natural disaster in American history.”—–Isaac’s Storm A Man, a Time, And the Deadliest Hurricane in History

    PS Erik your YC_211-thumb-400×282-40825.jpg pic isn’t showing up.

  2. #2 Erik Klemetti
    February 11, 2010

    Hmm. I see the thumbnail fine. Anybody else having a problem?

    The problem I see here is that (a) the paper might be new, but I’m sure that data isn’t and I’m sure the YVO folks saw it at a meeting or as a reviewer, so this is not new information to them. It might not be updated on their website, but they know about it. So, any statements they make now about it will bear that in mind. However, thinking of the system as on a hair trigger because there is some suggestion about the amount of melt and the like is too simplistic for a complex system like this. I mean, what if it takes 10% more melt to erupt? How long does it take to generate that melt? What configuration does the melt need to be? What temperature? Does it need to be cooling or heated by a basaltic injection? Does it have to be under a previously existing crustal feature? How big of an earthquake does it take? And where – nearby or far or either? Is the melt distributed throughout the mush evenly or unevenly? How do you compact the mush anyway – maybe an earthquake doesn’t do it, maybe it is gas flow through the mush? See what I mean? Thanks to the study, we know have more information about what could be under Yellowstone, but forecasting volcanic eruptions is not like forecasting the weather. I would definitely not live in fear of every swarm – like I’ve implied, we might know there is more melt, but we don’t know nearly enough about how you actually trigger an eruption – especially a large one – to think it is merely a question of % melt and seismicity.

  3. #3 Boris Behncke
    February 11, 2010

    I must give my full support to Erik, Yellowstone shouldn’t be the thing to be worried about in this moment. Even if the paper you (Randall) are referring to is brand-new, the fact that there is magma underneath Yellowstone is not – it’s the discovery that’s new, not the fact itself. It is well possible that there has been more or less the same amount of magma underneath Yellowstone for thousands of years, yet it has not erupted since 70,000 years. Be careful, only because Yellowstone is much more studied and much more in the news it is NOT more dangerous than dozens of other volcanoes on this planet that nobody thinks of in this moment, and which even unleashing rather small eruptions can cause immense tragedies. I already mentioned Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia on 13 November 1985, which killed about 23,000 people in a rather small eruption, at about the same time that Yellowstone had an earthquake swarm that would dwarf the latest one in terms of earthquake number and magnitudes – considering, too, that the monitoring systems back then were a far cry from what they are now. So DON’T WORRY about Yellowstone because it’s not going to erupt now, and even if it were to erupt during our lifetime, the probability of that eruption being rather small would be about one thousand times greater than the so-much-hyped-about “super” eruption. And then, a winter comes every year, so chances of making false forecasts are higher, plus weather is about a million times more complex than a single – even though complex – volcanic system.
    But Randall you are fully correct, there should be more effort in the sense of “awareness” and “preparedness”, as I mentioned in an earlier comment to an earlier post. This is because there is ALWAYS a possibility that one day a large, disruptive, and possibly devastating eruption will happen in the U.S. (or whatever country that has volcanoes), rather in the Cascades than at Yellowstone I would say. Because Yellowstone is not going to be the bad boy for a long time doesn’t mean we should go back to ignoring volcanic hazards. Right now at Etna we’re having repeated surges of quite high sulfur dioxide emissions from its summit craters, we’re talking up to 14,000 tons per day, which means magma is very close to the surface. No reason to panic, but to be prepared for its next eruption which will likely happen during this or maximum next year.

  4. #4 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Here is a good news story for you, it was posted by Passerby last night. Yeah it’s a news story but here is the paper it is based on:
    University of Oxford (2009, January 12). Large Earthquakes Trigger A Surge In Volcanic Eruptions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2009/01/090110084653.htm
    Erik I don’t worry for myself, I live in Florida and I have a sailboat so if need be I can leave here…I won’t even need gas to do go somewhere else….I am pretty sure if anything happens I will survive…I do worry for everyone else that won’t survive…because no one made any real serious preparations for them…just in case.

  5. #5 Erik Klemetti
    February 11, 2010

    Ditto on preparedness. The US tends to be bad at preparedness – well, humans in general. What is the saying after the real danger being when the memory of the last disaster is lost? I can never remember. In the US, there are a multitude of hazards that most people living near them have no idea (e.g., New Madrid fault, Newberry Caldera), so an ounce of education is worth a ton of panic.

  6. #6 Erik Klemetti
    February 11, 2010

    Randall, it definitely is an intriguing connection:

    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2008/12/the-volcano-earthquake-connection.php

    I know a lot of people who have thought about this, but the data still isn’t there to say there is a direct connection in all settings or how big/close the earthquakes need to be or the state of the magma chamber – but this data set is definitely interesting.

  7. #7 Chance Metz
    February 11, 2010

    This has nothing to do with Yellowstone but is is a pretty big event. Soufriere Hiils had a major dome collpase and eruption today to 50,000 feet that is still going on.

    FVXX20 KNES 111830
    VA ADVISORY
    DTG: 20100211/1830Z

    VAAC: WASHINGTON

    VOLCANO: SOUFRIERE HILLS 1600-05
    PSN: N1642 W06210

    AREA: W_INDIES

    SUMMIT ELEV: 3002 FT (915 M)

    ADVISORY NR: 2010/190

    INFO SOURCE: GOES-12. GFS WINDS. RADIOSONDE.
    VOLCANO WEB CAMERA. VAFTAD. PILOT REPORT.

    ERUPTION DETAILS: LARGE ERUPTION AT 11/1700Z.

    OBS VA DTG: 11/1745Z

    OBS VA CLD: SFC/FL500 N1704 W06207 – N1648 W06104
    - N1637 W06108 – N1628 W06208 – N1643 W06214 -
    N1704 W06207 MOV E 50-70KT SFC/FL100 N1805 W06138
    - N1744 W06050 – N1648 W06104 – N1704 W06207 -
    N1643 W06214 – N1708 W06228 – N1805 W06138 MOV NE
    5-10KT

    FCST VA CLD +6HR: 12/0000Z SFC/FL500 N1659 W05608
    - N1529 W05612 – N1519 W06019 – N1635 W06217 -
    N1652 W06210 – N1659 W05608 SFC/FL270 N1637
    W06219 – N1528 W06035 – N1448 W06132 – N1504
    W06340 – N1637 W06219 SFC/FL100 N1839 W06102 -
    N1656 W05915 – N1650 W06211 – N1717 W06230 -
    N1839 W06102

    FCST VA CLD +12HR: 12/0600Z SFC/FL500 N1644
    W06126 – N1608 W05157 – N1419 W05155 – N1411
    W05842 – N1546 W06054 – N1644 W06126 SFC/FL270
    N1656 W06219 – N1643 W06128 – N1543 W06049 -
    N1405 W06205 – N1415 W06410 – N1656 W06219
    SFC/FL100 N1812 W06220 – N1807 W05905 – N1637
    W05929 – N1643 W06127 – N1656 W06220 – N1812
    W06220

    FCST VA CLD +18HR: 12/1200Z SFC/FL500 N1551
    W05959 – N1452 W04829 – N1307 W04759 – N1305
    W05726 – N1452 W05956 – N1551 W05959 SFC/FL270
    N1704 W06247 – N1553 W06001 – N1454 W05956 -
    N1409 W06232 – N1422 W06523 – N1704 W06247
    SFC/FL100 N1828 W06123 – N1739 W05936 – N1552
    W05959 – N1704 W06246 – N1828 W06123

    RMK: THE LARGE ERUPTION CONTINUES… WITH PILOT
    REPORTS TO FL500. STG WINDS WILL MV VA FROM E TO
    SE OVER THE COMING DAY WELL INTO THE ATLANTIC.
    MIDLEVEL TO FL270 VA WILL BEGIN TO MV S THEN SW
    OVER THE FCST PERIOD WITH LOW LEVEL VA BETWEEN
    ST.KITTS/NEVIS AND ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA.
    …GALLINA

    NXT ADVISORY: WILL BE ISSUED BY 20100212/0030Z

  8. #8 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    I think the quote you were looking for is by George Santayana “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Thanks Boris and Erik for listening to me. I have a few other papers and questions I would like to post later if I could for your input. I really don’t doubt your knowledge and experience…I just know that sometimes we (me very much included) don’t always see the forest for the trees, that and to really question is to really find the answers.

  9. #9 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Hey…Erik not to change the subject but it seems like there was a little interest the other day in Kimberlites. A lot of people didn’t know that there were volcanoes (even if they are extinct) very close to them. I would really enjoy any info you can add to the subject.

  10. #10 mots
    February 11, 2010

    so no yellowstone eruption……
    well, that’s good.

    verysidenote: sailboat===pirates
    no thanks…….. i’ll take yellowstone
    and btw/i do own a sailboat……or it has me.
    Best!motsfo

  11. #11 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    I am an old pirate so they don’t scare me in the least;)

  12. #12 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Also it is amazing what a coke bottle full of gas and couple of well aimed flare guns can do to a boat/pirate…it sort of looks like a volcano;)

  13. #13 Boris Behncke
    February 11, 2010

    On the other hand, it looks like Soufrière Hills on Montserrat had a major partial dome collapse today – some info at http://www.montserratvolcanoobservatory.info, and a bunch of impressive photos taken by an eyewitness who posted them at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=153770&id=601576609&l=12c4cc29b8, and more comments, links etc. determined to increase in number at the MVO’s Facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flemmings-Montserrat/Montserrat-Volcano-Observatory/105425683957?ref=ts

  14. #14 Gijs de Reijke
    February 11, 2010

    May I note that predicting an out of the ordinary winter for this year wasn’t really that hard… El Niño was already expected to happen again this winter, and so are all kinds of phenomena that come with it. Here in the Netherlands we usually have one short period (a few days at most) a year with a snow covered ground, and the layer of snow is on average no more than 10 cm thick. Yesterday we already had the fifth snow cover of the season and although it wasn’t a lot (max. 5 cm), we had a lot more than average (20 to 40 cm) when snow was on the ground on a number of occasions during the last 2 months. El Niño is very likely the cause of it all. We just know it hits every 3 to 7 years and meteorologists are getting a better idea of what signs there are in the months previous to an El Niño that can help them predict if one’s going to happen or not.

    Yellowstone has the potential to do a lot of nasty stuff, but until, for example, I see the ground bulging by at least inches a day (to start with, it will probably swell meters a day when things are getting really tense over there), I’m not getting worried about anything big happening at Yellowstone. Preparedness is good, but I have to say the arguments of both Erik and Boris are damn strong. Getting too nervous about this is probably only going to do the US (and world) economy harm when something (IF something) happens at Yellowstone, like a (big) geothermal explosion, or a small to moderate eruption.

    And if I may ask (just out of curiosity): what are you actually going to do when you’re out on your boat if a huge caldera forming eruption would happen? IF(!) it would happen, I’d want to stand close (still hundreds of miles) to Yellowstone watching the thing go. If I’d survive the eruption itself, at least I’d be starving to death, together with billions of others in this world, in the years following the event with the thought that I had at least witnessed the b@sterd blow its top. ‘Preparedness’ is a word that doesn’t really go well with a ‘super eruption’. Not just because, in the case of Yellowstone, FEMA wouldn’t know what to do, but because there IS nothing you can really do. Evacuating a couple of million people out of the area that gets hit by pyroclastic flows and surges and extremely heavy ashfall will give them only a little bit bigger chance of surviving the eruption AND the aftermath, and when billions would die because of the entire situation, who’d really care, let alone have the ability to help anyone but themselves?

    Yellowstone is not something to really worry about, because:
    - It’s not going to do anything big any time soon (composition of gas emissions shows that in al likelihood we’re safe from Yellowstone for at least another 10.000 years)
    - We CAN’T prepare for something like a ‘super eruption’, so being nervous about it only has negative economic consequences
    - There are far more important things to worry about

    Funny thing is: Boris mentioned all kinds of bigger threats to our safety. I always have to take the train from the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (where I live) to the city of Nijmegen (where I study). When I was getting on the train last Tuesday a guy in a Jellaba came out screaming. Although he was arrested and taken away, the train didn’t leave. After about 15 minutes we had to leave the train and the train station, and we were even urged to leave the streets and squares around the station. Apparently the guy had been creaming something about ‘Allah’ and a ‘bomb’. No trains could arrive or depart from the place for eight hours, because there was actually a big chance that this guy had been trying to blow us up. In the end everything was safe, and the guy didn’t appear to be a Muslim terrorist but just a nutcase in a white dress.

    The chance of getting killed by a terrorist attack is a lot bigger than dying because of a 1.000+ km3 eruption has happened somewhere on the planet, and you don’t really worry (anymore?) about the chance some terrorist blows you up. At least I never did, and I’m not going to.

    Fear mongering causes a lot more damage than ‘getting prepared’ for any big but still very unlikely disaster.

  15. #15 bruce stout
    February 11, 2010

    it certainly is funny this whole fascination I have with volcanoes.. I do often ask myself if I just don’t have a morbid fascination with things that explode but after a bit of intensive navel-gazing I think I can say I don’t. I think earthquakes beat volcanoes hands down when it comes to sheer destruction and havoc. Volcanoes are certainly destructive but you normally have enough warning to get clear of them – or at least anyone with half a clue would heed the signs and get out before they got hit. Those photos of Plymouth posted at stromboli online are a good example. Sure, the town is ruined but there was very little loss of life and in most cases this would be how an eruption would develop. Compare this to Port au Prince in Haiti. Those poor sods didn’t have a chance.

    Ok, so a VEI 6 or 7 is perhaps another kettle of fish, but even there, you stand a good chance of heading for the hills (or not as the case may be) to avoid the worst of it.

    Ironically, as far as volcanoes go, I think most life could possibly be lost not by a major VEI 5 or 6 eruption that took days to build but more by a sudden unannounced phreatic blast in a highly populated area when nobody was expecting it, or a sudden flank collapse towards a city. yikes. that’s a scary thought.

    I don’t know if this puts Yellowstone into perspective but in terms of population density alone I think Yellowstone is a bit of a non-starter.

  16. #16 Passerby
    February 11, 2010

    http://www.storm2k.org/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?f=67&p=1965478

    More on the large eruption today at SOUFRIERE HILLS, with some nice satellite imaging of the ash cloud

  17. #17 Gijs de Reijke
    February 11, 2010

    @ Bruce: With a VEI 7 happening anywhere, I wouldn’t want to be within 100 km of where it happens, let alone the hill just outside town ;-) . But your point is clear ^_^ .

    Which reminds me: I would NEVER have stayed on Clark Air Base waiting for Pinatubo to blow. VDAP knew what the thing was capable of, and yet they were there, trying to ride it out in some buildings that were built on top of old ignimbrites.

    @ Passerby: it’s just getting bigger and bigger. This event looks very impressive indeed. I’m hoping for more pictures, especially like the ones from earlier this week ^_^ .

  18. #18 bruce stout
    February 11, 2010

    @Randall – this whole seismic / volcanic thing seems to be a long-running issue that nobody can really make any decisive conclusions on. It also came up in the discussion we had with Dr. Castro on Chaiten.

    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2009/10/answers_to_your_chaiten_questi.php

    Generally extensional movement will facilitate more melt due to the drop in pressure coupled with a resulting ex-solution of volatiles, but there is also a theory that seismic compression could also facilitate an eruption by forcing melt to the surface… (two of the rather basic theories) .. but there was also talk of redissolution of water in the melt due to an increase in pressure which I didn’t quite understand. Whether that has anything to do with seismic activity or what the consequences of this would be for an eruption, I have no idea.

    Of course, I think it goes without saying that faults and fractures from seismic activity represent lines of least resistance for ascending magma and there have been lots of instances of eruptions occurring days or hours after a largish earthquake (the whole fault propagation thing) More than that, I can’t say.. sorry!!

  19. #19 bruce stout
    February 11, 2010

    @Gijs the other problem in the Netherlands of course is finding a hill to hide behind.. :nyah: but you’re right VEI 7? not much you can do there except kiss your posterior goodbye. When Taupo blew it knocked forests of kauri down hundreds of kilometers away from the vent. Kauris are seriously big trees with girths of up to 20 meters and more. In other words, Auckland, a couple of hundreds miles away would have been flattened by the blast.

  20. #20 Boris Behncke
    February 11, 2010

    Looking at the Soufrière Hills webcam now (21.40 GMT), it looks like there is quite a piece of the lava dome missing, gone in today’s collapse.

  21. #21 EKoh
    February 11, 2010

    In terms of potential disasters, the Decade Volcanoes list is still appropriate. One could add to the list and include volcanoes such as Popocatépetl. If I was to expand that list more, I may include volcanoes with a lower probability of an explosive eruption, but close to major population centers.

  22. #22 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Gijs de Reijke Predicting a cold and snowy winter for the East Coast and the South, most of Europe and Asia was not such an easy thing to do during an El Nino year. It sure wasn’t easy for the Hadley Center;) El Nino for our area usually means warmer and more storms….We got the storms here but that El Nino never stood a chance to warm our temps….Not with a negative arctic oscillation….all that the El Nino did for the Eastern US was to provide fuel more a snowmaker;)

    I tell you what guys read that paper I posted and prove it wrong and I will never worry about Yellowstone again. Until then or until something else happens or something else is published…. I am very happy to talk about other volcanoes or just about any geological topic;) Kimberlites anyone?….The forgotten volcanoes. Seriously I think it would amaze people to know just how close a volcano (even though extinct) can be to where they are. I know I would like to learn more;)

  23. #23 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Montserrat volcano shoots ash 9 miles into sky

    The Associated Press
    Thursday, February 11, 2010; 5:06 PM

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A volcano on Montserrat shot ash some nine miles (15 kilometers) into the sky Thursday, one of its most dramatic events since a devastating 1997 eruption that drove away half the Caribbean island’s population.

    The partial collapse of the dome in the volcano’s crater also unleashed flows of hot gas and rocks, triggering sirens for the evacuation of about 20 people from a nearby village.

    Paul Cole, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, said it appeared to be the most material ejected by the volcano in about four years. He estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of the hardened lava dome had collapsed.

    “When we’re looking at the lava dome now, there’s a large scoop out of it that’s missing,” Cole said.

    The dome has crumbled several times since the volcano became active in 1995, and Cole said it is possible activity will settle down as the dome builds itself up again. He said there is no immediate cause for concern about more dangerous eruptions.

    The 1997 eruption killed 19 people and buried much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory’s 12,000 inhabitants left.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021103657.html

  24. #24 Mattias Larsson
    February 11, 2010

    I think it will take some time before the El-nino event affects Europe. But I think it is possible that it will make the next authum and winter warm. I am not sure how much it will affect the summer in Europe, any guesses?

  25. #25 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Mattias….In light of the big event at Montserrat today… I may want to change my long range forecast I posted last night for Europe and Eastern North America. Hey can anyone tell me just roughly how much SO2 was produced today by the Soufriere Hills eruption? Since the volcanoes in the tropics seem to have a bigger effect on the climate of the Northern Hemisphere than the higher latitude volcanoes do.

  26. #26 Gijs de Reijke
    February 11, 2010

    @ Randall & Matthias: El Niño has immediate effects all over the world. Extra snow here and in the US are examples. That’s what I referred to, to El Niño as an extra ‘snowmaker’ ;-) .

    @ Randall: Prove wrong what’s in the paper? No need to. Paper is probably the latest stuff, and probably based on good science. The interpretation is just different. And it’s true that the scientific world doesn’t know a lot about these things that happen at huge calderas yet, but the accumulation of an enormous amount of eruptable magma wouldn’t go unnoticed.

    As I asked you before: what would you do? It’s not like predicting it would actually made a difference.

    Kimberlite is nice btw. I’d like to have a piece or two in my ‘volcanic rock collection’ one day, preferably with a wee diamond ^_^ . I do have big amounts of peridotite, which is very nice stuff, too (can be found in a lot more places though). Especially maars produce very nice peridotite bombs. I found a huge one which measured 50 cm in the Eifel in October.

    Something else: I was looking for ‘Mount St. Helens’ today on Youtube, and found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGwa3N43GB4

    ^_^

  27. #27 doug l
    February 11, 2010

    The jpeg is still not showing, for what it’s worth.
    How does Yellowstone compare to California’s Mammoth Mountain?

  28. #28 Erik Klemetti
    February 11, 2010

    Who else is not seeing the jpeg – because I’ve been able to see it on all the computers I’ve tried. Maybe its a windows/mac thing. Weird.

    Anyway, Yellowstone > Long Valley/Mammoth Mtn., definitely. However, they’re both big, so at that scale, it is a little of six of one, half dozen of the other.

  29. #29 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Erik, Check your address for the pic…here is what you have now:
    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/assets_c/2010/02/YC_211-thumb-400×282-40825.jpg

  30. #30 Erik Klemetti
    February 11, 2010

    Yup, I click on that link and see exactly what I thought I posted. Strange things going on.

  31. #31 Diane
    February 11, 2010

    Wow! I’m gone for part of the day and asleep part of the day and I find a new post with a lot of discussion.

    I live close enough to Yellowstone that if it did blow a huge eruption, I don’t think it would matter if I had any kind of prep for anything. I am more concerned about having a wildfire come though than I am about Yellowstone. And for that, I would need to be prepared enough to take what was most important to me and leave. BTW, I live near a crater that is blown out due north and has some weird geology. It has several different colored domes in it and at the top of the crater is a large outcrop of what looks like basalt. I cannot get to any of it to investigate without going to repelling school. LOL The outcrop at the top is reachable, but difficult just the same. Now somebody who was 20yr old could probably do it in a heartbeat. Just around the corner from this crater is another one that is not well defined. It is older and more broken down. Now these volcanoes are supposed to be extinct, but I still say they could come back to life in the right conditions.

    I also live near a serpentine fault zone; almost on top of it, but maybe a mile by way of crow. Also the town is riddled with tunnels. I wouldn’t be surprised if the town went down like “No Name City” if there was a major, and I mean MAJOR quake. I am not worried about it, though, even if a couple of quakes have caused landslides on a couple of the roads here. It is more common for the weather to do that, but some of the rock up here is sort of slatey. So it tends to freeze/thaw and slide down.

    Enough on that. I am interested in the post that had Einstein’s quote about the ice build up at the poles reaching a certain amount of weight which will cause the plates to start moving a bit. Any ideas on that? The post is on the one about either Monserrat or the mud volcanoes. I have forgotten which. Also discussion on the Kimberlites in the US would interest me as would some discussion on the impact craters. I know impact craters are not volcanoes, but they are also a possibility because we get hit a lot by meteorites and those are specimens that people go looking for, too, because they are so unique.

    As for the weather, well, it is what it is and they do the best they can to predict it. In Seattle, they used to have a montra they would put on the radio when a storm was coming in: Bread, Milk, Toilet paper; Bread, Milk, Toilet paper…. If you get stuck by some snow, or can’t get out because of the rain and wind, at least you could use the toilet and eat. LOL

    So, get a freakin generator, plenty of gas, diesel, or propane depending on what kind you have, have enough wood if you have a wood stove, have some extra food on hand, have the tank in the car full, and be ready to bug out if you have to. If in case of a volcanic eruption or major quake, well, good luck!

    ‘Nuff said. For now.

  32. #32 Mattias Larsson
    February 11, 2010

    I found some information on the effects of El Nino on european weather. According to Max Planck institut there are probably some connections with weather in Europe but the picture is not entirely clear. Please see the following link http://www.mpimet.mpg.de/en/presse/faqs/das-el-nino-southern-oscillation-enso-phaenomen/hat-el-nino-einen-einfluss-auf-das-klima-in-europa.html

  33. #33 Diane
    February 11, 2010

    @Erik, I am not getting the jpg either and I have windows.

    @Doug, Mammoth Moutain itself is not that big. It is, however, on the rim of the Long Valley Caldera which is about 15-17 miles wide and 30 miles long. There are a number of very large domes and the Inyo craters are also in the caldera. They are not very big. I did get to the smallest one and it is filled part way with water. Interesting place with a lot to see.

    BTW, it looked like there were more quakes in the Mammoth Moutain area this evening. There has been a mini swarm going on there for a while. Plus there are areas of tree kill because of CO2 coming out of the ground around Mammoth.

  34. #34 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Make sure you actually loaded it to the net and into the right folder. Can you just hot link to where you got the pic in the first place?

  35. #35 Randall Nix
    February 11, 2010

    Gijs de Reijke I would have designated routes of evacuation. I would zone it up and have designated places for people in each zone to evacuate to say about 500-600 miles away from Yellowstone with some food, face masks and water already stored at those designated places. I would have more designated places with much more food, water and face masks ready at another 500-600 miles beyond that…ready to either send in as soon as you could if the eruption was smaller, or just in case you have to move those people at the first areas even further away. We stockpile strategic fuel reserves, we should do the same with food, water and masks. Trust me we know disaster well along the Gulf Coast…the worst thing you can have in a disaster is to have lots of people not knowing what is going on…so I wouldn’t sugar coat anything. I would tell people what can happen and how they should act in a worst case scenario. Even in your country I would stockpile food and plan what you guys would do if you didn’t have a growing season for several years. I would have seeds ready for planting hardy, colder weather crops for when you did start to get a growing season again. Over here I would also have the Rand guys game the different scenarios and see what the different outcomes would be. I would do absolutely anything other than just have a policy of…lets wait until it happens to make our plans and figure it all out then.

  36. #36 bruce stout
    February 11, 2010

    what jpeg are you talking about? The chart (this one) http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/YC_211.jpg
    is showing fine on my computer. (mac)

  37. #37 Mats
    February 12, 2010

    I don’t get the pic either (Windows XP, IE 7), I have had the same problem on a couple of other pics as well (not very common though).

    On another note – cudos for a great explanatory blog, with open minded discussions (though I don’t “eat” all of what is said), on a subject I love.

  38. #38 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Diane you are right you can’t go to sleep for long without missing something….Erik knew if he posted something about Yellowstone I would bite;)

    Mattias and Gijs de Reijke Here are some great sites for you on the PDO, the AO and the NAO. El Nino is only a secondary, part time player in the game.
    PDO Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/
    http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fed/oeip/ca-pdo.cfm
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~mantua/REPORTS/PDO/PDO_egec.htm
    AO…The Arctic Oscillation
    http://www.washington.edu/newsroom/news/1999archive/12-99archive/k121699.html
    NAO…North Atlantic Oscillation
    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/NAO/

    The PDO has been in cold mode for the last 2 years after being mostly in the negative phase since 1977. Now the AO and the NAO are both in negative and that means cold for most of the Northern hemisphere….except for where El Nino has the most influence and that is on the West Coast…El Nino does provide extra gas for the snow machine here but it would be cold and stormy everywhere it is now even if there wasn’t an El Nino….just maybe not quite as bad of snow without the El Nino. When the weather starts to get cooler again on the west coast…as the El Nino weakens some…then if the AO becomes a little less negative and NAO goes back to positive…only then will the weather here on the East Coast and in Europe really improve….but that is still looking like a little ways off for now;) Also I think volcanoes have an effect these oscillations, so does the wobble of the earth as does solar output and variations in sunspots..they are back by the way….at least a few anyway. The long term and primary player is the PDO and as long as it is in the negative winters will be cooler and summers will depend on other variables…or wild cards like volcanoes….Which reminds me…hey can anyone give me a rough estimate of the SO2 that was released today at Montserrat? In 1998 the PDO index flipped for several years to cool before going back to negative… I think that could that have been due to volcanoes at lower latitudes?

    Think of the PDO and El Nino like the same way water and a glacier act on a land surface…water (El Nino) can make some extreme shorter term changes to the land surface…the glacier (PDO) is more subtle and slower but it grinds a whole lot deeper. The big player for the major population centers of the Northern Hemisphere is the AO/NAO since they seem to work together and can override just about anything.

  39. #39 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Hey Erik I just posted some great links to the AO, NAO and the PDO for everyone to look at and an explaination as to whats going on with the long term weather for us up here in the Northern Hemisphere;) …but it said the post was being held by the owner…I guess that is because of the links.

  40. #40 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Ok…I am going to try this without the links and see if it works I will try to send the good links to the PDO, the NAO and AO in the next post.

    Diane you are right you can’t go to sleep for long without missing something….Erik knew if he posted something about Yellowstone I would bite;)

    Mattias and Gijs de Reijke Here are some great sites for you on the PDO, the AO and the NAO. El Nino is only a secondary, part time player in the game.

    The PDO has been in cold mode for the last 2 years after being mostly in the negative phase since 1977. Now the AO and the NAO are both in negative and that means cold for most of the Northern hemisphere….except for where El Nino has the most influence and that is on the West Coast…El Nino does provide extra gas for the snow machine here but it would be cold and stormy everywhere it is now…even if there wasn’t an El Nino….just maybe not quite as bad of snow without the El Nino. When the weather starts to get cooler again on the west coast…as the El Nino weakens some…then if the AO becomes a little less negative and NAO goes back to positive…only then will the weather here on the East Coast and in Europe really improve….but that is still looking like a little ways off for now;) Also I think volcanoes have an effect these oscillations, so does the wobble of the earth as does solar output and variations in sunspots..they are back by the way….at least a few anyway. The long term and primary player is the PDO and as long as it is in the negative winters will be cooler and summers will depend on other variables…or wild cards like volcanoes….Which reminds me…hey can anyone give me a rough estimate of the SO2 that was released today at Montserrat? In 1998 the PDO index flipped for several years to cool before going back to negative… I think that could that have been due to volcanoes at lower latitudes?

    Think of the PDO and El Nino like the same way water and a glacier act on a land surface…water (El Nino) can make some extreme shorter term changes to the land surface…the glacier (PDO) is more subtle and slower but it grinds a whole lot deeper. The big player for the major population centers of the Northern Hemisphere is the AO/NAO since they seem to work together and can override just about anything….This is one reason the models are having such a hard time with everything…They are warm biased and with a more positive PDO built into them.

  41. #42 Ralph
    February 12, 2010

    Hi Erik – having viewed your site on a computer that doesn’t show the Yellowstone jpg and one that does I think the problem is the large size of the image. It’s 2821 x 1990 pixels and 1248 KB, and isn’t resized, so the browser has to work to squeeze it into the available space. I think some browsers just won’t take the job on, so the image doesn’t show. The graphic is definitely there and can be downloaded directly if your browser isn’t rendering it.

  42. #43 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Whoops…I said the “PDO index flipped for several years to cool before going back to negative” Sorry I meant to say that the PDO index flipped for several years to cool before going back to positive (warm) Sorry for any confusion but it is late here I am going to get some sleep…I have to get up early….I have a snowman to make here in Pensacola Florida…it will be the first measurable snowfall here in 32 years…..Hummmmmmmmm lets see 32 from 2010 that would be 1978…the year after the PDO flipped.

  43. #44 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Whoops…I actually had that last part right it was really back up in the post before that where I said “The PDO has been in cold mode for the last 2 years after being mostly in the negative phase since 1977.” What I had meant to say was that the PDO has been the cold mode for the last 2 years after being in the positive phase….That is it…now I am really going to sleep.

  44. #45 Erik Klemetti
    February 12, 2010

    Thanks for the help with the image, everyone. I’ve tried editing it down to a proper size and reposting it. Hopefully all you Windows folks can see it now.

  45. #46 Mattias Larsson
    February 12, 2010

    Thanks for the info Randall. I agree totally on the discussion about AO, NAO and PDO. :) The positive and negative AO and NAO has a large inpact on the weather patterns here in western Europe during the winters. As an example. The winter 2 years ago was meiby the warmest I have experienced here in Sweden, and this was during a winter with high NAO and AO. Lowpressure systems carrying mild weather from the Atlantic dominated the whole winter. It was raining instead of snowing in the south of Sweden during a large part of that winter.

  46. #47 Randall Nix
    February 12, 2010

    Mattias In the latest volcano post I have some more info on the NAO and AMO and thier influence on Atlantic Storms in the summer….See ya in the new volcano thread;)

  47. #48 Gijs de Reijke
    February 13, 2010

    Errr… I can see the picture with FireFox, but not with Internet Explorer ;-) .

  48. #49 theory
    February 13, 2010

    Many geologist only see this as a theory. They dont have the exact date to its eruption. But decreasing earthquakes over in limestone doesnt quite convince me. I mean many science experts have been wrong about many things in the past. I mean considering that this is the biggest supervolcano man has ever seen. Anything could be possible with this supervolcano. I mean I guess with all the guysers the pressure and tension between the plates could be released through that. But think of the supervolcano as a zit or pimple. Your skin (the earths surface). Is releasing too much oil(pressure the plates create) so it gets clogged. Your skin overproduces this oil at a constant rate. The only way to stop it is to pop it or remove it by releasing pressure. We have no way of doing that. We also do not know at which the rate these plates are moving. So it can explode at any minute. So how do you know that the pressure isn’t so great that it maybe has stopped the plates and is holding them in place. You have to think of the endless possibilities before assuming. This is just a theory. It could be ready to explode at any minute. Think about

  49. #51 Diane
    February 14, 2010

    @Gijs: good one! Especially since it is a chocolate chip cookie!

  50. #52 Fitz
    February 14, 2010

    Just speaking as an Engineer, with some practical experiance in breaking things:
    Generally to get a Big Explosion you need Big Pressure. “Supervolcanos” get Big Pressure the way a soda bottle does, gas fizzing out of a solution (ie – lava degassing)
    A soda bottle is tightly capped, the solution doesnt degas until the cap comes off. Same for the volcano. The overlying rock layers have to fracture. For a big eruption, it has to fracture in a big way. These little Mag 2 swarms dont do that.
    I wouldnt worry til I saw significant changes in the lake level. A big event in a large already busted up region like YS is going to make more noise than we’re hearing. It’ll sound like a tank coming out from under a pile of gravel.

  51. #53 Randall Nix
    February 15, 2010

    Fitz….I posted this in the other thread…I don’t know if you saw it there or not so here it is again….I wanted to make sure you saw it;) I embedded a YouTube video I found on my site:

    http://www.nixcomp.com/geoyellowstone.htm

    It’s a video a tourist took last summer. In it a Park Ranger talks about changes to one of the normally calm blue pools at Norris after an earthquake;)
    When the snow melts this year, it will be very interesting to see what changes they may find around Madison River and all along the old Northern Yellowstone caldera rim.

  52. #54 Gijs de Reijke
    February 15, 2010

    @ Diane: it was the only thing that I could think of when I had ‘to think about’ plate tectonics stopping magma chambers ;-) .

  53. #55 Diane
    February 15, 2010

    @Gijs: yeah, I know what you mean. ;-D

  54. #56 motel townsville
    October 19, 2010

    Clothe up your feel or regress another’s partner

  55. #57 Venapro
    December 22, 2010

    I loved that post, one question though, can I link to it on my blog to share it with my readers ? Thanks.