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Facts about the Yellowstone Caldera

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Yellowstone park is a very popular tourist destination, not in the least because it is the oldest national park on our planet. One of the reasons why it is so popular is that, below the famous hot springs, lies a deadly sleeping giant. Indeed, the park is the caldera of a super volcano. The volcano is dormant at the minute, but it will erupt again. Nobody knows when it will happen, just that when it does, the world will know about it. Clearly, the time to get book your Tauck Tours Yellowstone & The Tetons: American Safari trip is now. Better safe than sorry, after all.

Yellowstone Caldera
Yellowstone Caldera Photo credit: Maarten Otto / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Size and Scope

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Yellowstone is very famous for its many active fumaroles, mud pots, hot springs and geysers. Each of these is a type of opening into the crust of the earth, where it reaches the volcanic activity, emitting gases and steam. Half of all of our planet’s geothermal features are found here. Additionally, two thirds of the world’s geysers are in Yellowstone (300 geysers are found here). It is believed that the heat flow of the Yellowstone caldera is 40 times higher than the global average.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park Photo credit: Phae / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Past Eruptions

History tells us that catastrophic eruptions have happened at Yellowstone around every 600,000 to 800,000 years. Indeed, geological evidence tells us that two of these have been the largest ever seen on earth, with some suggesting they caused an ice age or even the extinction of the dinosaurs. Small eruptions have also happened regularly, although the volcano has been dormant for 70,000 years. We are well overdue a massive explosion.

Current Activity

There is a very clear ebb and flow activity within the molten reservoir. It rose significantly between 1923 and 1984 and then dropped again until 1989. However, it is now believed that there is a giant plume of hot rock that feeds the volcano, and this plume is much larger than first believed. Recently, frequent earthquake swarms are noticed. The worst one was in 1985, when 3,000 were counted. In 2010, 1,000 earthquakes were measured.

Morning Mist in Wyoming
Morning Mist in Wyoming Photo credit: Always Shooting / Foter / CC BY

What Will Happen?

So what is going to happen to the Yellowstone super volcano? The only thing that we know for sure is that it will blow at some point in the future. The big question is when. Constant monitoring is taking place in the region to report on the pressure of the molten reservoir, the pressure of the plume and more. If she blows, which she eventually will, it is believed that it will be at least 1,000 times worse than the 1980 Mount St. Helen’s eruption.

This means the entire planet would notice its effects. The US would be worse hit due to its location, with two thirds of the country becoming uninhabitable due to the toxic air. One thing that will set people’s minds at ease, and that will encourage them to take the Tauck Tours to this amazing park, is that it is believed we are still a few thousand years away from the next big eruption.

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