There’s a chance you’ve seen social media posts about Yellowstone being “overdue” for an eruption. As one can imagine, this is probably unsettling, especially since it’s considered a supervolcano — which sounds like something you definitely wouldn’t want to explode.
Thankfully, there’s no need to worry about that happening anytime soon. Now you’re probably wondering: When is Yellowstone going to erupt? Will it erupt? Here’s what you need to know according to the professionals.
Yellowstone isn’t “overdue” for an eruption.
Even though the internet is full of warnings that Yellowstone is going to explode any second, prompting survival tips and eliciting anxiety, the volcano isn’t actually overdue — or on track — for anything.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there isn’t a set schedule for volcanic eruptions, even one as famous as Yellowstone. Volcanoes and their eruptions are unpredictable. While you could try to predict when one might erupt, it would be just that, a prediction.
And if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, then here it is: 100,000 years. The USGS stated that if they were to calculate the average of the two time intervals between previous eruptions, it would mean that there’s still 100,000 years until Yellowstone is “due” for an eruption. But in their own words, the estimate is “meaningless.”
In addition to the false claim that the volcano is “overdue,” there’s usually an insinutation that the eruption would be incredibly destructive and dangerous. Not only does this spread unnecessary fear, but it’s also not exactly true.
This quote straight from the USGS ought to soothe any lingering fears: “Although another catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone is possible, scientists are not convinced that one will ever happen.” It goes on to say that it’s not even clear if there’s enough magma to “feed an eruption.”
So while it’s possible that the volcano will erupt, it’s impossible to know for sure. And if it does, it definitely won’t happen on any sort of predictable or planned schedule.
The famous park is still full of activity though.
Even if you can’t count on an eruption, you can always count on some sort of activity at Yellowstone. The national park is full of amazing hydrothermal features: Geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles.
And if you’ve been lucky enough to see these sights in person, you know that they could be described as very lively. According to the National Park Service (NPS), mudpots bubble due to the different gases escaping and fumaroles have steam coming off of them because of how hot they are.
The geysers at Yellowstone will provide the best chance to see an eruption. The built-up pressure allows them to burst out water and steam. Old Faithful, an extremely popular — if not the most popular — geyser at Yellowstone National Park that is pretty active.
It usually erupts every 90 minutes, the NPS stated. It isn’t on an exact schedule, but this average calculation tends to be mostly accurate. So if you really, really want to see something erupt, this might be a cool feature to check out.
It’s also not uncommon for the park to experience a lot of seismic activity — there’s anywhere between 700 and 3,000 earthquakes a year. In 2022, there was around 2,500 earthquakes, according to USGS. And while all of these were considered minor or light, it’s almost impossible to say that the place isn’t exploding with activity.