Yellowstone National Park: Imminent Danger?

Lately, animals such as bison and elk have been observed leaving Yellowstone National Park in large groups, seemingly with one goal in mind — getting away from Yellowstone. If you didn’t know, Yellowstone is one of the largest hydrothermal systems on Earth and has the largest concentration of geysers. Yellowstone is home to a massive super volcano that erupted about 70,000 years ago and although there isn’t any direct evidence, it is suspected by some to be overdue for another eruption. If Yellowstone erupted, it would likely cause severe tremors in the immediate area, cover the majority of North America in volcanic ash, and likely have some relatively noticeable global impact as well. However, there is no need to panic or worry about Yellowstone. Despite the recent concerns of some, here are some answers to help put your mind at ease.

Recently, Yellowstone had the largest earthquake that the park has seen in the last 30 years. Although that sounds serious, it is a bit misleading. The earthquake Yellowstone experienced was a magnitude 4.8, which caused no damage or injury and very few people even felt it. People who lived within a few miles of the epicenter did not even notice that the earthquake happened, let alone were affected by it. The fact that this earthquake was relatively small was still of little comfort to some because within the last few months, the park has experienced a slight increase in their normal numbers of earthquakes, which is a high number as is. This increase, however, is not very big, nor is it of any particular concern as it doesn’t represent an increase that is unusual for the area.

People have noticed that animals, particularly bison, have been leaving the park in large herds. Many have been interpreting this as a warning that something big is coming up such as a large, severe earthquake or the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera. However, the animal population’s departure is most likely due to the winter which, leads the herds to move to lower elevations in search of uncovered food. At the end of winter, and as the snow cover melts, the animals will likely move back into the park as they normally do. On YouTube, there have been many videos recently that showed bison running out of the park, but are older and are less cause for concern.

Among the various surveys done year round on Yellowstone National Park, the ground deformation within the park is monitored very closely. Although there has been ground deformation in the past few months, the rate at which the ground is changing is not threatening.

In addition to ground deformation, concerns have been raised about the change in helium emissions at Yellowstone. The discovery of helium being released from massive pockets of gas within the Earth’s crust seems like a major problem because it seems to point to greater gas and geothermal activity in the area, however although about 60 million tons of two billion-year-old helium per year is escaping the stores under Yellowstone, it is suspected that this is not a new event, but a new discovery and that the gas actually has been being released for the past two million years.

Despite recent suspicions of the possible activity in Yellowstone National Park, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. For now at least, Yellowstone is not quite as dangerous as people seem to think and is much more than a time-bomb. Yellowstone is a natural wonder that can pique the interest of scientists and tourists alike for years to come. Don’t worry too much about the possibility of the volcano going off and enjoy one of the world’s most amazing locations.