Dr. Erik Klemetti is an assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University. He earned his Ph.D. in Geology from Oregon State University after finishing his undergraduate work in Geosciences and History from Williams College. He is fascinated with the timescales of magmatic processes and using them to get a better understanding of hazards posed by active volcanoes.
1. Do you believe we are in danger of Yellowstone erupting in our lifetime?
Could Yellowstone erupt in our lifetime? Sure, but the chances are low and even if it did erupt, it is far more likely to be a small eruption rather than a so-called “supervolcanic” eruption. The Yellowstone caldera has had quite a few eruptions since the last cataclysmic eruption over ~640,000 years ago, but all of those were much smaller eruptions that produced lava flows and minor ash.
2. Are there any prevention methods or evacuation plans in place?
I’m sure that the government has plans for what to do in the case of renewed activity at Yellowstone. With the much higher likelihood of a smaller eruption from the caldera than a large eruption, then planning for a regional evacuations around the park would be relatively straightforward.
3. Is there any wildlife in that area that may go extinct should the volcano erupt?
Nope. Most animals have a range much wider than the kill zone for even a large eruption. However, in the very low chance of a large eruption, we might see global climate changes due to the ash and volcanic gases introduced into the atmosphere that could have a much wider ranging effect of plants and animals.
4. Would an eruption cause any other natural disasters?
A large eruption would likely produce earthquakes felt near the caldera and possibly global effects of weather from the ash/gases, but not much beyond that.
5. Are you smarter than the average bear?
I would like to think so, but I’ve seen some crafty bears.
To read more about Erik or to catch up on his latest projects, please visit his blog, Eruptions.