Jan
15
2008

More Yellowstone chaos: One hot tsunami to go, please

That's no hydrothermal explosion: The water blasting from Castle Geyser at Yellowstone National Park is a pop-gun shot compared to the mile-high hydrothermal explosion that rocked the park some 14,000 years ago.
That's no hydrothermal explosion: The water blasting from Castle Geyser at Yellowstone National Park is a pop-gun shot compared to the mile-high hydrothermal explosion that rocked the park some 14,000 years ago.Courtesy Wikipedia
It seems like every few weeks I run into more evidence that Yellowstone has, or will again be, the most violent place on Earth.

Scientists this past weekend at a seminar at our national park jewel heard that some 13,000 years ago, an earthquake created the largest-ever hydrothermal explosion, firing off tsunami-size waves that rumbled out from Lake Yellowstone for miles. Debris from the impact could be found as far as 18 miles away and the steam column from the blast may have risen up has high as a mile.

The result of that explosion was the Mary Bay crater, which stretches across the north end of the lake. The massive water eruption may have released as much as 77 million cubic feet of water. Such explosions happen when hot water below the lake’s bottom suddenly flashes into steam and bursts upwards.

Since that time, researchers also figure there have been around 20 smaller hydrothermal explosions around Yellowstone, leaving behind craters larger than a football field. Even smaller explosions happen on a much more frequent basis, but rarely when people are around or causing significant damage. One such blast in 1989 sent rock and debris 200 feet into the air.

And while bloggers and cable TV stations like to make a big deal about Yellowstone being a super volcano ready to blow again, researchers say it’s much more likely that another hydrothermal explosion will alter the park’s landscape first.

What do you think about all of this? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've been following the data coming out of Yellowstone now for 45 days. The trigger for a flash point leading to a steam explosion is only a hair away. That's my take on it. It's just a gut feeling. I'm no scientist.

posted on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 8:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow

posted on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 2:09pm

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