Just kidding – I still think Yellowstone is super-duper.
It’s just a new study that was released informing us that the supervolcano does not actually exist. It may just be a regular ol volcano that erupted twice 6,000 years apart.
Yellowstone supervolcano more active but ‘less super’ than previously thought
Aurum Geyser is one of many thermal features in Yellowstone National Park powered by geologic forces active since the first Yellowstone supervolacno eruptions, dating back millions of years. (Janet White – click to enlarge)
By Ruffin Prevost
CODY, WYO. — A new technique for dating rocks produced in volcanic eruptions indicates that the Yellowstone supervolcano was more active than previously thought, but also bit less super.
Researchers have just published the findings of a study that suggests a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption believed to have happened 2 million years ago was in fact two separate eruptions separated by at least 6,000 years. The discovery could require geologists studying the Yellowstone supervolcano and other similar sites to recalibrate their geologic clocks a bit, while also offering a better idea of what the future holds for the still-active region around Yellowstone National Park.
In a study funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the June issue of Quaternary Geochronology, researchers at Washington State University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre used a high-precision argon isotope dating method to make the new calculations.
“The Yellowstone volcano’s previous behavior is the best guide of what it will do in the future,” said Ben Ellis, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at Washington State University’s School of the Environment. “This research suggests explosive volcanism from Yellowstone is more frequent than previously thought.”
Yellowstone supervolcano eruptions over millions of years have formed giant calderas, including the Island Park Caldera (shown in green) from the Huckleberry Ridge eruptions. (USGS – click to enlarge)
The Huckleberry Ridge explosion of more than 2 million years ago formed the Island Park Caldera, which lies under the western half of Yellowstone Park and extends into the adjacent Island Park area of Idaho. Geologists have typically accepted that the caldera and the related Huckleberry Ridge Tuff rock formations still visible in the park were formed by a single cataclysmic explosion that was among the largest in the earth’s history.
Until now, “nobody had taken the time to go out and test each part,” Ellis said Monday during a telephone interview with Yellowstone Gate.
So that’s exactly what Ellis decided to do, traveling about two years ago to the area around Flagg Ranch, just south of Yellowstone Park. The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff extends from Yellowstone south into the Grand Teton National Park area, and some of the best examples of the 2-million-year-old rocks are around Flagg Ranch, Ellis said.
The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff is visible at spots in Yellowstone’s Golden Gate Canyon, about three miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs.