OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

No. Yellowstone is not 'Overdue'

Image of Yellowstone by Heinrich Berann

"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."

Meet the filmmaker capturing volcanoes at the crater's edge

 

"We're working our way up the side of this volcano and all of a sudden it does this big burst and you see this thing the size of a school bus comes crashing down about 150 metres away from us.    I kind of stop there and we're all quiet—we don't scream or anything, but I look up at the guys, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and keep going … and I'm like: 'Does anybody want to talk about what just happened here?'"