Yellowstone volcano ‘colossal eruption’ not biggest worry as US warned of forgotten danger

Yellowstone Volcano: Super eruptions 'are very rare' says expert

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Volcanologist and Yellowstone volcano expert Clive Oppenheimer argued that a super eruption is unlikely. During an interview with, he said a danger that was concerning were large and small steam explosions. He said these were much more frequent than a massive eruption.

Mr Oppenheimer said: “Well, there are a lot of potential scenarios for a future eruption at the Yellowstone volcano.

“The one that people get excited about and keen on is the chance of a colossal eruption, what we might call a super eruption but that is a very rare event.

“The probability of that is exceedingly low probably less than 1 in a million per year.

“But what is more likely are smaller events as there are a whole range of things volcanos can do.”

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Mr Oppenheimer reflected on the other dangers the Yellowstone volcano may cause and things people should be more concerned about.

He said: “One of the more likely scenarios at Yellowstone are small steam explosions.

“We all know about the famous geysers there and occasionally when that water flashes to steam more violently it can blast out rock and make a crater several tens or hundred metres across.

“Those are much more likely events than things at the extreme end of the scale.”

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“We have lots of ways of monitoring volcanoes.

“Lots of the principles methods are using Seismometer to measure earthquakes.

“And you can imagine a volcano that has been quiet for a long period of time the crust will of cooled down and a lot of the rocks will have healed and sealed.

“If you start building a big magma chamber again, magma is rising, it creates earthquakes and that can be detected.”

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“It is almost beyond the concern of hazard evaluation unless there is some kind indication that the volcano is gearing up for a very large event in the future.”

Mr Oppenheimer also noted some of the ways in which volcanologist measure dangers associated with the volcano.

However, regarding a super eruption, he insisted that there was not a significant amount of data to accurately predict when a large eruption would occur. 

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