YELLOWSTONE and our new Popular Volcanics podcast

- Dr. Janine Krippner

YELLOWSTONE is gonna BLOW... is something you see in tabloid headlines in some form or another far too often. Let me start off with saying how sick I am of seeing all of you being lied to about this volcano. Let's chat about the facts, where to find the facts, and how to spot the junk 'news' on Yellowstone.

So what is actually happening with this volcano, or "supervolcano" to use the recently popular term? My colleague Dr. Erik Klemetti got in touch about starting a volcano podcast and we have jumped right in, tackling the big problem-child volcano to kick things off.

Why make a volcano podcast?

Because I want YOU to be able to find and understand all the good stuff about volcanoes. You don't deserve to search for volcano information only to find tabloid junk. I am trying to fix this, step-by-step.

Our brand new podcast is Popular Volcanics (you can head over to our new website here) where Erik and I are your hosts and we will bring in guest experts to discuss explosive topics that we see needing attention. We go over current volcanic activity around the world (which is usually 40-50 ongoing eruptions at any given time), any notable eruptions, and volcano myths that we see popping up around the place. I jumped at the chance to co-create a podcast with Erik because he is a great communicator and I am dedicated to helping people around the world find good quality information on volcanoes. This is another way to reach that goal. In the world of 24/7 online media there is a lot of junk out there, so we are working to put more good stuff out there for all of you.

Steamboat Geyser, Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, courtesy of USGS.

When we thought about asking what people wanted to hear for the first episode we knew we really didn't have to bother. People always want to hear about Yellowstone. When I meet people, which happens a lot, I am almost always asked about Yellowstone. So we brought in the Scientist in Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Dr. Mike Poland, in as our first guest to discuss your burning questions and give some background on how Yellowstone is monitored.

I asked Mike the two questions I am asked all the time - when is Yellowstone gonna blow and is it going to kill us all: 1) most likely not any time soon, and 2) NO! As we discuss in the podcast, we have been through this scenario many times throughout history and we are still here. Sure the largest of large eruptions would be very disruptive, but there is no evidence that it would end life on Earth. While we are here, did you know that the most likely scenario at Yellowstone is either a hydrothermal eruption or a lava flow? In fact,

 "Of the past 50 or so eruptions, almost all were simple lava flows" - USGS
Map of post-caldera lava flows at Yellowstone from USGS.

Another example of a common misconception is that geyser activity at Yellowstone indicates an impending eruption. Not true. In the podcast we talk about how geysers are fascinating and dynamic systems that, while driven by heat from magma deep below, are influenced by other shallower processes. Increased geyser activity does not mean increased magmatic activity - read more about how geysers work here.

So, where can you get good information on Yellowstone? We discuss a few different pages on the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory website including these ones:

- Five things most people get wrong about the Yellowstone volcano

- Their blog where they discuss a different aspect of Yellowstone each week: Caldera Chronicles

- Yellowstone activity updates and current alerts

The monitoring network at Yellowstone - HERE.

How do you protect yourself from bad Yellowstone information? Well first off, ignore headlines that have words in all caps. Like I did for this blog post. Second, go to the Yellowstone website where they post updates (listed above). Third - look at what volcanologists are talking about. As Mike discusses, no one will be able to hide activity at Yellowstone (and volcanologists would not want to!) and trust me, if something started to happen we would be talking about it. Loudly.

So tune in to our brand new volcano podcast to hear more about Yellowstone, what it might look like leading to an eruption, what an eruption might actually be like, and the extensive monitoring that goes on to keep a close eye on this incredible volcanic system.

Listen to the podcast:

Popular Volcanics website

Popular Volcanics Podcast  (Coming to iTunes and Spotify soon!)

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