Yellowstone is one of the most feared volcanoes on the planet, and a massive wave of quakes near the caldera will not do anything to calm nerves. Some 97 tremors have rocked the park over the past month, leading to eruption fears. The tremors have been relatively small, but some seismologists argue that the quantity of earthquakes is more relevant than the size when it comes to precursors of a volcanic eruption.
The largest of the 97 earthquakes in the past 28 days came on June 28, when a 2.7 magnitude tremor struck.
Portland State University Geology Professor Emeritus Scott Burns has said a spate of small tremors around a volcano usually signifies that magma and gasses beneath the surface are beginning to navigate their exit.
He said: “If you get swarms under a working volcano, the working hypothesis is that magma is moving up underneath there.”
However, others disagree about whether an earthquake swarm near a volcano could be a sign of things to come.
Jamie Farrell at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, believes this is just part of the natural cycle for Yellowstone volcano, saying: “Earthquake swarms are fairly common in Yellowstone.
“There is no indication that this swarm is related to magma moving through the shallow crust.”
If the Wyoming volcano were to erupt an estimated 87,000 people would be killed immediately and two-thirds of the USA would immediately be made uninhabitable, according to a eruption simulation video from YouTube channel Underworld.
The large spew of ash into the atmosphere would block out sunlight and directly affect life beneath it creating a “nuclear winter”.
The massive eruption could be a staggering 6,000 times as powerful as the one from Washington’s Mount St Helens in 1980 which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces.
If the volcano explodes, a climate shift would ensue as the volcano would spew massive amounts of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, which can form a sulphur aerosol that reflects and absorbs sunlight.