Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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Date published: May 27, 2019

Tis the season…for field work in Yellowstone!

The month of May marks the start of many field studies for scientists affiliated with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO).

Date published: May 20, 2019

Colter's Hell: Tales of the First European-American to Step Foot in Yellowstone

Imagine for a moment that you could turn back the clock some two-hundred years or so and embark on a journey from east to west across the North American continent. Imagine that you had never heard of Yellowstone, or geysers and hot springs, and as far as you were concerned nature was epitomized by the patchy, deciduous forests and rolling hills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Date published: May 13, 2019

Feeling petrified! Evidence of Yellowstone's distant volcanic past found in rocks and trees

Much is known about volcanism occurring from Yellowstone within the past 2 million years, but many people are not aware that this landscape was also profoundly shaped by much older volcanism. Fifty million years ago, the Absaroka Volcanic Field dominated the region that is now Yellowstone National Park. Today, you can explore extensive fossil forests resulting from this explosive past.

Date published: May 6, 2019

The National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) will help USGS better monitor nation’s most dangerous volcanoes

In September 2004, USGS scientists detected sudden, but unmistakable, signs that Mount St. Helens was waking up. Volcano monitors had picked up the occurrence of hundreds of small earthquakes and other signals that the volcano’s crater floor had begun to rise. Within a week, several eruptions blasted clouds of ash into the atmosphere, and soon after, a new lava dome emerged in the crater.

Date published: May 6, 2019

InSAR, the Magic Deformation Camera That No One Saw Coming

Toting their surveying instruments to the tops of mountains or across continents, ancient (20th century) geodesists might have dreamed of an easier way to measure precise locations and track changes in ground motion over time. Today that dream has been realized with GPS and InSAR.

Date published: May 3, 2019

CalVO researchers collaborate with Yellowstone Volcano Observatory to determine rhyolite lava eruption intervals in caldera

In addition to studying volcanic processes and their associated hazards in California and Nevada, scientists at the California Volcano Observatory also collaborate with other volcano observatories to work on volcanic processes throughout the United States.

Date published: April 29, 2019

Battle of the giants: How Yellowstone fits into a world of moving mountains

Motion of a volcano resulting from pressure changes within its plumbing system is called deformation, and we can measure it with high-precision positioning instruments on the ground, such as GPS, and also from radar satellites.

Date published: April 22, 2019

How can we better monitor Yellowstone's dynamic hydrothermal system?

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory staff gathered in Bozeman, Montana to discuss how to better monitor changes in the thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park.

Date published: April 15, 2019

The evolution of the Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field: Past, present, and future!

Many first-time visitors to Yellowstone National Park have heard about a "supervolcano" but, expecting a Rainier-like volcanic peak, often wonder "Where is the volcano?" In fact, they are in the middle of one of the Earth's largest volcanic structures, despite the relatively muted topography of the calderas and the volcanic deposits!

Date published: April 8, 2019

Is gravity changing at Yellowstone?

In high school physics, we are taught that gravity is a constant—9.8 meters per second squared is the gravitational acceleration on Earth, and it is the same everywhere. But that's not quite true...the gravitational acceleration changes depending on elevation, and also the composition of the ground beneath your feet. Because of that, it's a great tool for monitoring volcanic activity!

Date published: April 1, 2019

Discovering new thermal areas in Yellowstone's dynamic landscape!

Yellowstone's thermal areas are the surface expression of the deeper magmatic system, and they are always changing.  Recently, we have discovered another phenomenal example of thermal change—the emergence of an entirely new thermal area, which has taken place over the past 20 years!

Date published: March 25, 2019

"Overdue" can apply to library books, bills, and oil changes, but it does not apply to Yellowstone!

We've heard many statements that Yellowstone is overdue -- that it has a major eruption every 600,000 years on average, and since the last eruption was 631,000 years ago...well...you can see where this is going. Is this true? In a word, no. In two words, no way. In three words, not even close. Yellowstone doesn't work that way.