Yellowstone volcano: Will Idaho earthquake trigger a Yellowstone eruption?

Idaho was rocked by a powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake on April 1, with tremors being felt as far away as Canada. Yellowstone supervolcano is located in the State next to Idaho, Wyoming, leaving many fearing that the powerful quake could trigger a deadly eruption.

Following the earthquake, one person wrote on Twitter: “Yellowstone is about to blow up.”

Another person added in light of the tremor: “That’s way to near Yellowstone… Is it ok to panic yet or not? #Idaho #earthquake.”

However, geologists have moved to calm fears, stating the supervolcano is not about to blow.

Michael Poland, USGS geophysicist specializing in seismology and volcanic activity at Yellowstone National Park, said: “There’s always rumors about Yellowstone erupting.

“[Earthquakes] don’t trigger eruptions. They don’t trigger volcanic activity.

“But they can trigger changes in geyser behavior. So what’s probably happening is that the shallow conduits that feed the hot springs and geysers are sort of broken up by the shaking and that causes the hot water to find other ways out.”

The Yellowstone supervolcano, located in the US state of Wyoming, last erupted on a major scale 640,000 years ago.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the chances of a Yellowstone eruption is around one-in-730,000.

With 640,000 years having passed since the last major eruption, Yellowstone is edging closer to exploding – but it could still be thousands of years away.

However, experts are preparing for the worst now and are studying how a major eruption, which could instantly wipe out large swathes of the US, could be prevented.

One NASA employee believes he has found a unique way to stop a major eruption – by feeding cold water into Yellowstone’s magma chambers.

NASA engineer Brian Wilcox hopes to stave off the threat of a super-eruption is to cool down the magma in the chambers inside the volcano.

Around 60 to 70 percent of the heat generated by Yellowstone seeps into the atmosphere but the remainder builds up inside. If enough builds up, it can trigger an eruption.

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By drilling 10 kilometres (six miles) into Yellowstone, the NASA employee believes it would be possible to pump high-pressure water which will allow the cool liquid to absorb some of the heat, before it is pumped out again.

Mr Wilcox told journalist Bryan Walsh in the latter’s new book End Times the plan could cost $3.5bn (£2.9bn).

The proposal would have the added benefit of using the steam from the water and magma combo to create carbon-free geothermal electricity at a much cheaper rate than any alternative energy currently available on the market.

Mr Wilcox told Mr Walsh: “The thing that makes Yellowstone a force of nature is that it stores up heat for hundreds of thousands of years before it all goes kablooey all at once.

“It would be good if we drained away that heat before it could do a lot of damage.”

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