- Mt. Sheriden has been rumbling (15+ micro-quakes) between
1:00 pm and now (9/7/03). There were three small earthquakes at Yellowstone
lake between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm MT (9/7/03), which were felt at Norris
Junction. There were some small quakes between Midnight and 6:00 am (9/7/03)
at Norris Junction. There was a whole string of micro-quakes (25 or more)
at Madison River between 6:00 am and now, which are continuing. There have
been sporadic micro-quakes (32+) all day at Mammoth Hot Springs. Micro-quakes
started around Noon and have continued to the present at Mirror Lake Plateau.
All in all, activity is picking up from a lull for about two weeks, before
which a series of small and large quakes (including a 4.4) occurred. That
quake prompted the web report.
- Steam pressure is apparently building again, and hydrothermal
fluids and steam are working their way up through fractures and vents.
I do not expect anything unusual or extreme to happen in the immediate
future, but if the trend continues, and the number of earthquakes gradually
increase with time, more warnings from geologists will ensue.
- What you should be alert to is any report that mentions
increasing geyser activity, with new fumaroles and steam vents appearing
near or on top of the rising dome. The dome has risen about three feet
in the past few years, and magma has risen to within 3.7 km of the surface
based on quake data. Earthquake loci measured to within 0.5 km under Mt.
St. Helens, and people still didn't think it would erupt.
- But everything has to be scaled up for Yellowstone, meaning
that 3.7 km is not a safe depth. Ground temperatures in the northwestern
part of the park are apparently on the rise (up to 200 dg F in some places),
killing the vegetation. Large areas of the park are now closed, including
areas with geysers, because their water temperature is now scalding and
dangerous for visitors.
- If more steam vents appear, that means a continuous pathway
for pressure release has been established to the magma chamber. If that
happens, the pressure in the magma chamber will continue to drop until
it reaches a critical stage when the superheated water within the magma
explodes. When that happens the super-volcano will blow violently, blowing
out a chunk of its cap-rock and sending millions of cubic feet of ash into
the atmosphere in a Pompeii-like explosion, but 100,000 times worse.
- When you hear those reports, you will have about two
days to "get out of Dodge" before the eruption. Unfortunately,
as the steam venting subsides, there will be a false sense of security.
People will think it was just another cyclical event, and the danger is
over. But that will be the farthest from the truth. It will be the quiet
before the storm. A major earthquake will suddenly rock their towns for
hundreds of kilometers around Yellowstone, and soon thereafter 1,000+ degree
pyroclastic flows will descend on them at hundreds of miles per hour, extending
out to 600+ km.
- That 600 km radius around the caldera will experience
total devastation. The next 600 km out may receive as much as 5-10 feet
of ash, depending on wind direction. The thickness of ash will decrease
away from the super-volcano, but will reach the crop belt in the Midwest
(Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, etc.), destroying most of the fertile
croplands of the United States. California will be hit hard by falling
ash, with its central wine valley severely damaged (the French will love
it). Agriculture will have to shift east of the Mississippi for years.
The Garden State will once again live up to its name.
- In northern Idaho you will have to contend with several
feet of ash and isolation. Roads will be closed. Power will be out. Phones
will be out. Communication will depend on Ham radios and local stations
that have generators. Rescue will take weeks or months. Some areas will
never see rescue teams. The survivalists will be best prepared to make
it through the difficult months following the eruption. Make new friends.
Have plenty of dust masks on hand, because you cannot breath any airborne
ash if you want to avoid lung disease. It's what caused mass kills of plains
animals 12 million years ago, resulting in extensive bone beds beneath
the ash. Drinkable water will sell at the price of gold.
- To recap, I don't expect anything to happen in the near
future. But with such an unpredictable event, being prepared is your best
ticket to survival."
- Dr. Bruce Cornet