Yellowstone Volcano eruptions more frequent, less “super” than thought?

Recently I posted on Old Faithful and Yellowstone and so want to share a news article from this past April, found just today.

It reports new research findings that Yellowstone’s biggest eruption, the Huckleberry Ridge event 2 million years ago, may actually have been two eruptions some 6,000 years apart. They were still big, and as noted in the article (emphasis and links added):

The new ages for each Huckleberry Ridge eruption reduce the volume of the first event to 2,200 cubic kilometers, roughly 12 percent less than previously thought. A second eruption of 290 cubic kilometers took place more than 6,000 years later.

That first eruption still deserves to be called “super,” as it is one of the largest known to have occurred on Earth and darkened the skies with ash from southern California to the Mississippi River. By comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced 1 cubic kilometer of ash. The larger blast of Oregon’s Mount Mazama 6,850 years ago produced 116 cubic kilometers of ash.

If this Wikipedia entry on super eruptions is accurate, the new information moves Yellowstone’s Huckleberry Ridge eruption down a notch to being the fourth biggest known eruption on Earth. (La Garita’s eruption, of course, would be much better known today if it hadn’t happened so very long ago in human terms – during the Miocene Epoch – and if the area was still active today.)

Yellowstone is a place where traces of Nature’s violence merge with vistas of tranquility. Not surprisingly, it appealed to a post-war nation. Here is a painting of Yellowstone Lake done about 10 years after the end of the Civil War by Thomas Moran, whose earlier paintings had helped inspire Congress to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

See what I mean?

Yellowstone Lake, by Thomas Moran.

Yellowstone Lake, by Thomas Moran, circa 1875. (Library of Congress – click to enlarge)

Now, on to this week’s Civil War post!



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