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Caldera Chronicles

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Caldera Chronicles

A personal commentary: Why I dislike the term "supervolcano" (and what we should be saying instead)

Let's ditch the overused, misrepresentative, and misapplied "supervolcano" term. Instead, let's call them "caldera systems."

No, Yellowstone isn't going to wipe out humanity

YVO gets a lot of questions about whether Yellowstone, or another caldera system, will end all life on Earth. The answer is—NO, a large explosive eruption at Yellowstone will not lead to the end of the human race. The aftermath of such an explosion certainly wouldn't be pleasant, but we won't go extinct. How do we know? Because this "super eruption" experiment has already been run. Twice!

Top ten things I miss (and don't miss) about Yellowstone and YVO

"It's been two years now since I stepped away from YVO, and I wanted to take this time to reflect a bit on my experiences with the observatory and as a scientist working in Yellowstone." - Jake Lowenstern, YVO Scientist-in-Charge for 15 years

The case of the Lava Creek Tuff and the empty reentrants

Geoscientists have never observed an active magma reservoir firsthand because magmas are stored inaccessibly deep underground. However, crystals are born, grow, and live within magma reservoirs. The physical textures and internal composition of these crystals preserve evidence for the nature of the host magma. 

Just how many thermal features are there in Yellowstone?

Yellowstone National park hosts more than 10,000 hydrothermal features including hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots. But did you know that park personnel document every one of those features...in person?

Yellowstone's newest thermal area: An up-close and personal visit!

USGS and Yellowstone National Park scientists visited a newly discovered thermal site in the park. They mapped the extent of the area and took the temperature of the subsurface using a handheld thermistor.

Helium isotopes carry messages from the mantle

Scientists who work at Yellowstone are interested in finding physical and chemical signals from the deep magmatic system, both to better understand the nature of the system and also to monitor for possible changes. Helium is an inert gas that is an excellent tracer of magmatic processes.

What caused Yellowstone's past eruptions, and how do we know?

What does cause an eruption at volcanoes like Yellowstone? To answer this question, we look at small crystals that formed in erupted volcanic rocks! 

60 years since the 1959 M7.3 Hebgen Lake earthquake: its history and effects on the Yellowstone region

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week's contribution is from Jamie Farrell, assistant research professor with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations and Chief Seismologist of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Yellowstone's icy past

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week's contribution is from Mike Poland, geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Alterations to go! Hydrothermal alteration in Yellowstone

What is hydrothermal alteration, and why is it important? Most visitors to Yellowstone National Park are only vaguely aware of hydrothermal (hot water) alteration (chemical and mineral reactions with hot water).

A new view of Old Faithful's underground plumbing system

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week's contribution is from Sin-Mei Wu, Jamie Farrell, and Fan-Chi Lin, seismologists with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations and the Department of Geology and Geophysics.