If you’ve heard of Yellowstone National Park, odds are you have heard about the supervolcano underneath, with volcanisms remaining a driving force in Yellowstone’s ecosystem. 

This begs the question: When will it erupt? Scientists say there is a possibility, but the chances of an eruption are unlikely over the next thousand to 10,000 years. There have been no implications of smaller lava eruptions in the 30 years of scientists monitoring the area. 

Yellowstone has tree calderas that are millions of years old. Calderas are hollow, cauldron-like chambers that form after magma empties the chamber in a volcanic eruption. The first caldera in Yellowstone formed over two million years ago and happened from one of the largest volcanic eruptions known to man. Volcanic material from this eruption ejected 6,000 times the volume of material more than the Mount Saint Helens Eruption in Washington 42 years ago. The second caldera formed over one million years ago, and the third most recent caldera was formed 630,000 years ago. Many of these eruptions formed beloved sites at the park. 

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory was created in 2001, helping to strengthen the ability to track and respond to any changes in volcanic activity. It also evaluates potential long-term hazards in seismic and volcanic activity and explosive hydrothermal activity in the area. The observatory provides scientific data to create a reliable, timely wanting of a volcanic or seismic event should it occur. The observatory works to communicate results to responsible authorities and the general public effectively. It also helps improve the scientific understanding of the park’s volcanic activity, magmatic and seismic processing, surface deformation, and hydrothermal activity. 

The possibility of a volcanic eruption can happen but, thankfully, not in anyone’s lifetime. An eruption will likely occur in the next million years, with common activity being lava flows, which happened during the last major eruption and could ooze for years. However, no scientific evidence shows lava flows will happen anytime soon.  

Click here to learn more about the volcanic activity at Yellowstone National Park and find the current activity of the domes and calderas that lent a helping hand in creating the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.