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A number of news recently reported that we are now in a "volcano season" and that a supervolcano like Yellowstone could erupt in the next 80 years. However, volcano season is not actually a real thing, and if it was then we would not necessarily be in one, scientists have said.
David Pyle, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford's Department of Earth Sciences, told IBTimes UK the idea of volcano seasons bubbles up in the media every now and again, but the science behind it is not so convincing.
"The original suggestion that there might be a 'volcano season' was based on an analysis of the timing of known eruptions from 1700-1999 AD, and this analysis showed a small signal for increased numbers of eruptions worldwide during 'northern hemisphere' winter months," he said.
"The jury is still 'out' over whether this is a real effect, or whether it might be influenced by sampling bias – since the numbers of detected eruptions continues to go up, as global monitoring networks and satellite remote sensing means we are able to spot eruptions now which might not have been detected, had they happened just a few decades ago. So, in short it's still not clear that the volcano season is real; and even if it is, it's likely to be a small effect."
Panic over an impending Yellowstone supervolcano eruption and the volcano season appears to have come from a report released in 2015 by the European Science Foundation. Its report, Extreme Geo-hazards: Reducing the Disaster Risk, warned that we are not prepared to cope with large volcanic eruptions – and that volcanoes pose a greater risk to mankind than other geohazards like earthquakes.
However, the report does not say there is a 5-10% chance a supervolcano eruption will take place in the next 80 years (as some have reported). In fact, it only references supervolcanoes once, to say there have been no eruptions during the Holocene era (the last 11,700 years). In 2014, USGS scientists said they are 99.9% sure Yellowstone will not erupt in the next century.
Volcanologist Rebecca Williams, from Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at the University of Hull, also said the idea of volcano season and Yellowstone erupting was nonsense.
"There is no such thing as volcano season," she told IBTimes UK. "There is no more volcanism at the moment than there is normally. Rather, there seems to be more interest in reporting small volcanic eruptions and a better-connected world means we know more about eruptions around the world. There has been talk about Yellowstone erupting and killing everyone but this is nonsense. There is no scientific data that suggests an eruption is likely to occur in the near future."