The US Geological Survey has issued a statement regarding rumours relating to the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park.
It said there have been several reports lately about the park, which is mainly based in the US state of Wyoming, being evacuated because of an impending eruption.
A report, entitled Yellowstone Evacuated: Experts Claim 'Super Volcano' Could Erupt Within Weeks, published by satire website Civic Tribune, got people extremely concerned – so much so that the US Geological Society (USGS) experienced a high volume of calls from concerned members of the public.
In response, the USGS issued a "short statement" about the rumours: "Though we love doing research at YVO [Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory], we prefer it when the research is on topics geological rather than the origin of false rumours," it said.
"Nevertheless, we have received enough concerned emails and phone calls that we've spent some time tracking down a few of the statements made on various 'alternative Internet news sources'."
The article on Civic Tribune had said the park had been evacuated following a sudden spike in activity, which could lead to an eruption within just two weeks.
Explaining why Yellowstone is not going to erupt, the USGS issued the following points:
- First, everyone should know that geological activity, including earthquakes and ground uplift/subsidence is well within historical norms and seismicity is actually a bit low at present.
- Concern over road closures is much overblown. There's been one road closure of a small side road – just over three miles long – that was closed for two days. As one can imagine, it is not easy to maintain roads that pass over thermal areas where ground temperatures can approach those of boiling water. Roads at Yellowstone often need repair because of damage by thermal features as well as extreme cold winter conditions.
- The park has not been evacuated. This one is pretty easy to verify by everyone. If the Old Faithful webcam shows people, or if news articles are coming out about a hobbyist's remote control helicopter crashing into a hot spring, Yellowstone is certainly open for business.
- No volcanologists have stated that Yellowstone is likely to erupt this week, this month or this year. In one recent article, a name was attributed to a "senior volcanologist", but that person does not appear to exist, and a geologist with that name assures us that he did not supply any quotes regarding Yellowstone.
- Finally, we note that those who've kept track of Yellowstone over the past decade or so, have seen a constant stream of "predictions" regarding imminent eruptions at Yellowstone. Many have had specific dates in mind, none had a scientific basis, and none have come true.
It said that it will continue to provide updates, adding that almost everything that is known about Yellowstone came from the USGS: "We're the ones who mapped the deposits, figured out the ages of the eruptions, measured the gases, located the earthquakes, and tracked the ground movement. A few of us have been doing it for over forty years. We will continue to help you understand what's happening at Yellowstone now, and what's likely to happen in the future."