The BBC reports a NASA spokesman considers Yellowstone’s Supervolcano a global threat. An online BBC article said NASA scientists are studying to see how they can stop the volcano from erupting again.
But, Yellowstone’s geologist said it probably can’t and shouldn’t be done.
Yellowstone’s geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles are the primary reason Congress set aside the 2.2 million acre area as the world’s first national Park in 1872.
Millions of people come from around the world to see them, every year.
Yellowstone National Park has the greatest concentration of thermals on earth. They are part of a system fueled by a huge magma chamber underneath the Park. The magma has fueled eruptions for millions of years. The last in Yellowstone about 600,000 years ago.
If it erupts again, scientists believe the Supervolcano could cause an extended global winter.
Park Geologist Jefferson Hungerford said, “Well it would affect the climate patterns, the weather patterns for potentially years, or so.”
But, Dr. Hungerford said chances are, “We won’t see it. Very likely we will never see it.”
Hungerford said there may never be another super eruption from Yellowstone. We asked if NASA’s idea of drilling holes around the park to release heat, could stop a future eruption.
Hungerford answered. “Uh, no. We’re not there scientifically yet.”
He went on, “It’s actually a better thought experiment than it is real science.”
And, Hungerford warned, “Messing with a mass that sits underneath our dynamic Yellowstone would potentially be harmful to life around us. It would potentially be a dangerous thing to play around with.”
Hungerford said tapping into Yellowstone’s thermal system for cheap energy could end the features here.
He explained, “We’ve had experiences elsewhere in the world where people have tried to harness geothermal energy, from a volcanic system in Iceland and other places, that actually shut off hydrothermal geysers or other geothermal features.”
A super eruption in what is now Southern Idaho dropped ash a foot deep in what is now northeastern Nebraska, and killed herds of animals there. If you want to see them, you should visit the Ashfall Fossil Bed in Nebraska.