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"It seems like you can't read an article or watch a documentary about a natural hazard without hearing that some event is "overdue." A flood on a certain river is overdue, or a hurricane in a given place is overdue, or an earthquake of some magnitude is overdue, or a volcanic eruption is overdue. It's basically a cliché, and no documentary or article can be complete without it.
We've heard many statements that Yellowstone is overdue -- that it has a major eruption every 600,000 years on average, and since the last eruption was 631,000 years ago...well...you can see where this is going. Is this true? In a word, no. In two words, no way. In three words, not even close. Yellowstone doesn't work that way."
The USGS Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week's contribution is from Michael Poland, geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.