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Thread: Any evidence for Yellowstone extinction?

  1. #1 Any evidence for Yellowstone extinction? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree x(x-y)'s Avatar
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    I'm very interested in volcanology and plan to become a volcanologist when I am older, I'm currently 16...

    After reading many articles on Yellowstone and it's caldera eruptions of these dates in time- 1.8m years ago, 1.2m years ago and 640 000 years ago. This trend shows a general average of about 600 000 years, as you can see... Some scientists suggest that, from taking a variety of parameters into account (magama chamber volume, magma flow into the chamber, seismic activity etc) that Yellowstone is overdue for a major caldera eruption by 10 000 years...

    However, I've read some scientific articles on the possibility of Yellowstone being an extinct volcano- personally from further reading and watching videos, I am not a supporter of this theory. As there is evidence of the land subsiding and earthquake swarms taking place over the caldera, not to mention fumarolic and geyser activity...

    Also, Yellowstone is over a mantle 'hotspot' with the lithospheric land above shifting constantly- which is where we have seen a series of previous Yellowstone eruptions as the plate moves across the hotspot. And this hotspot isn't 'inactive' as such, is it?

    So, I was wondering if anyone has seen evidence of Yellowstone being an extinct 'supervolcano'?

    By the way, I'm not one of these Yellowstone doomsday fantatics! I know that there are other supervolcanoes which are of = if not greater risk than Yellowstone, for example Long Valley...

    Thanks,

    - x(x-y)


    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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  3. #2 Re: Any evidence for Yellowstone extinction? 
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y)

    As there is evidence of the land subsiding and earthquake swarms taking place over the caldera, not to mention fumarolic and geyser activity...
    This statement itself shows that yellowstone is not extinct. To be extinct htere would be no activity at all, thus being like the older Hawaiian islands. That there is still geyser, fumarole, earthquake, etc.. activity shows that there is magma movement below the surface.

    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y)
    Long Valley...
    I have never heard of Long valley being called a supervolcano before.


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    Maybe I got the wrong volcano... I'll have to check on that one, I thought long valley was a supervolcano or part of one...
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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  5. #4  
    Geo
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    Yellowstone is the world's largest active volcano.

    Yellowstone, Long Valley, and Valles Caldera in the United States are supervolcanoes.

    http://www.solcomhouse.com/yellowstone.htm
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geo
    Yellowstone is the world's largest active volcano.

    Yellowstone, Long Valley, and Valles Caldera in the United States are supervolcanoes.

    http://www.solcomhouse.com/yellowstone.htm
    Yes, I thought so...

    I think there's a supervolcano somewhere in the Phillipines as well, maybe...
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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    On the whole I dislike the term supervolcano. I have read, but not confirmed, that the term was introduced in a BBC documentary, rather than a scientific publication.

    I suspect - but again have not confirmed - that volcanic avtivity, or more precisely the energy released in volcanic events varies on a logarithmic scale. i.e. there are many low energy events, fewer high energy events, and very few very high energy events. In this setting there would be a continuous range of possible events and so the classification of them becomes quite arbitrary. I have nothing against arbitrary classification schemes per se, but if we are going to introduce one then it should have a well defined character, not just a sound-bite name reserved for the impressive end of the specturm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    On the whole I dislike the term supervolcano. I have read, but not confirmed, that the term was introduced in a BBC documentary, rather than a scientific publication.

    I suspect - but again have not confirmed - that volcanic avtivity, or more precisely the energy released in volcanic events varies on a logarithmic scale. i.e. there are many low energy events, fewer high energy events, and very few very high energy events. In this setting there would be a continuous range of possible events and so the classification of them becomes quite arbitrary. I have nothing against arbitrary classification schemes per se, but if we are going to introduce one then it should have a well defined character, not just a sound-bite name reserved for the impressive end of the specturm.
    For fun I had a look see in GOOGLE Scholar and the earliest I found was Science news; JSTOR; 1980:

    ... Its brightness may simply be sunlight on the volcano s flanks, or it may include the effect of clouds
    around the lofty peak. Continuing eastward around Mars reveals the rest of Tharsis (with its three
    other super-volcanoes) and more, in the mosaic shown on cover. ...
    From:http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as..._sdts=36&hl=en
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

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    Found an earlier reference, you'll love this.

    From the book "Velikovsky Reconsidered"; pg 97; by C. J. Ransom.

    Link to google books:

    http://books.google.com/books?ei=685...=super+volcano

    Which refers to a paper by G. S. Downs:

    Mars Radar Observations, a Preliminary Report

    Science 24 December 1971:
    Vol. 174. no. 4016, pp. 1324 - 1327
    DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4016.1324
    Ransom says in his cite that the phrase "super volcano" is on page 1324 of the Science article from 1971 but the article is not a freebie.

    link= http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten.../174/4016/1324
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

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  10. #9  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Good finds. The wikipedia article places the first use in a BBC Horizon documentary in 2000.

    I'm not sure if the Martian volcanoes count as supervolcanoes in the definition intended/implied in relation to Yellowstone. For the Martian volcanoes the term is applicable based upon the total volume of lava and ejecta erupted during the lifetime of the volacno. For terrestrial volcanoes the term relates to a single eruption or eruptive phase. This strengthens my contention that if the term is to be used it needs to better defined.

    I do like the Volcanic Explosivity Index. This is a logarithmic scale based on, not the energy of the eruption - a difficult thing to measure, but the volume of erupted material. I was quite unaware of this until half an hour ago. I like it.

    Velikovsky, bless his heart. My interest in geology was partially sparked by his madcap theories. He was victimised by the scientific establishment, which was a shame - there was some good scholarship, even though his conclusions were screwy.[/url]
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Good finds. The wikipedia article places the first use in a BBC Horizon documentary in 2000.

    I'm not sure if the Martian volcanoes count as supervolcanoes in the definition intended/implied in relation to Yellowstone. For the Martian volcanoes the term is applicable based upon the total volume of lava and ejecta erupted during the lifetime of the volacno. For terrestrial volcanoes the term relates to a single eruption or eruptive phase. This strengthens my contention that if the term is to be used it needs to better defined.

    I do like the Volcanic Explosivity Index. This is a logarithmic scale based on, not the energy of the eruption - a difficult thing to measure, but the volume of erupted material. I was quite unaware of this until half an hour ago. I like it.

    Velikovsky, bless his heart. My interest in geology was partially sparked by his madcap theories. He was victimised by the scientific establishment, which was a shame - there was some good scholarship, even though his conclusions were screwy.[/url]
    I certainly agree that the definition is not the same as the context now, however, I suspect that this is part of the etymology.

    That Velikovsky was a misguided genius and maltreated is not in doubt either. I too have studied the "Velikovsky Affair" but as a science history project as to how controversies occur and are dealt with within the scientific community. In the course of that investigation I have collected virtually all his works and those relating to it, which includes "Velikovsky Reconsidered", which is how I knew Ransom's cite, by pulling the book down from my library.
    I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.

    "The track of a glacier is as unmistakable as that of a man or a bear, and is as significant and trustworthy as any other legible inscription"
    John Strong Newberry; 1873

    "From observations upon living glaciers, and from the known nature of ice, we may learn to recognize the track of a glacier as readily and unmistakably as we would the familiar foot-prints of an animal." G. F. Wright 1891 (108-109)

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  12. #11  
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    'Supervolcano' is just a non-scientific term for a large volcano capable of global climatic effects.

    A 'more-scientific' description of a 'supervolcano' would be 'a volcano which produces eruptions of a VEI8 scale in its most intense eruptions'.
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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  13. #12  
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    Many people believe that supervolcanoes are the most lethal volcanic forms on the planet, however that is not so...

    Continental Flood Basalts are the worst thing that volcanoes can throw at the environment- much worse than a VEI 8 eruption. Fortunately the eruption of flood basalt province is a rare event, occurring on average about once every 25 million years. The volume of magma erupted is prodigious, of the order of 1 million , and takes the form of a series of some hundreds of flows erupted over a period of ~500 000 years. The total volume erupted is a thousand times more than erupted in a VEI 8 eruption...

    Anyway, that was just a bit of information for you there!
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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  14. #13  
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    Continental Flood Basalts are the worst thing that volcanoes can throw at the environment- much worse than a VEI 8 eruption. Fortunately the eruption of flood basalt province is a rare event, occurring on average about once every 25 million years. The volume of magma erupted is prodigious, of the order of 1 million km^3, and takes the form of a series of some hundreds of flows erupted over a period of ~500 000 years. The total volume erupted is a thousand times more than erupted in a VEI 8 eruption...http://www.eluxury-brands.com/

    Anyway, that was just a bit of information for you there!
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