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FAQs

Scientists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory receive numerous questions about the history, activity, and eruption probability of Yellowstone volcano. Based upon these questions, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked with answers provided by geologists and geophysicists who monitor activity and conduct research at Yellowstone volcano. Below is a list of subjects and specific questions. Please click the subject to access the answers.

Yellowstone's "supervolcano" status

  • What is a supervolcano?
  • What are some other examples of supervolcanoes?
  • I read that scientists couldn't find the Yellowstone caldera until they looked at a photo of Yellowstone from space. Is this true?

Volcanic History of Yellowstone

  • When was the last time there was volcanism at Yellowstone?
  • How much volcanic activity has there been at Yellowstone since the most recent giant eruption?
  • How often do volcanic eruptions occur at Yellowstone?
  • What was the extent of ash deposition from the largest Yellowstone eruptions?
  • How many caldera-forming eruptions have occurred from the long-lived hotspot that is currently beneath Yellowstone?
  • How many giant eruptions have occurred in the Yellowstone National Park region and how large were they?
  • How do the giant eruptions in the Yellowstone National Park region compare to other large historic eruptions?

Monitoring Activity at Yellowstone

  • What are the main monitoring instruments of YVO?
  • How are Yellowstone earthquakes analyzed and mapped?
  • What techniques does YVO use to measure ground deformation?
  • Have uplift and subsidence been seen on other volcanoes? Does uplift mean that an eruption is coming?
  • What is the normal volcanic activity level for Yellowstone?
  • What is the current status of volcanic activity at Yellowstone?

Future Volcanic Activity

  • Is it true that the next caldera-forming eruption of Yellowstone is overdue?
  • When will Yellowstone erupt again?
  • What type of eruption will occur if Yellowstone erupts again?
  • When will the next large earthquake occur in Yellowstone?
  • Could a large Yellowstone eruption significantly change weather patterns?
  • Can you release some of the pressure at Yellowstone by drilling into the volcano?

Heatflow and Geothermal System at Yellowstone

  • How hot is Yellowstone?
  • What is heat flow?
  • How is heat released in Yellowstone?
  • Can we use the heat from Yellowstone for energy?

Research Lessons from Yellowstone Volcano

  • How fast is the hotspot moving under Yellowstone?
  • How large is the magma chamber that is currently under Yellowstone?
  • How much magma is there under Yellowstone?
  • Why is Yellowstone called Yellowstone?
  • Are earthquakes at Yellowstone related to volcanism?
  • What is the relationship between volcanism and the geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone?

The 2003 bulge beneath Yellowstone Lake

  • Is there a bulge beneath the lake?
  • Why was it called the "inflated plain"?
  • Has the "inflated plain" been growing?
  • So what's the big deal?
  • What's a hydrothermal explosion?
  • Do any of the features beneath the lake relate to possible volcanic eruptions?
  • Is there any possibility of a toxic gas emission from Lake Yellowstone as occurred in Africa some years ago?
  • Is anybody assessing the hazards from new hydrothermal explosions?
  • Modeling the Ash Distribution of a Yellowstone Supereruption

    • Why did you write this paper?
    • What about the maps showing Yellowstone deposits across the U.S.? Don’t they indicate where ash will go?
    • What is new and significant about this study?
    • Did you learn anything new of scientific interest through this modeling?
    • What’s happening geologically at Yellowstone now?
    • Is there any evidence that Yellowstone will erupt soon?
    • If Yellowstone erupts, will it be the “big one” modeled in this recent article?
    • How will you know if an eruption is beginning?
    • Who is YVO?
    • Should I prepare for an eruption?