Dec 30, 2008 | 61
Any disaster fiend will tell you that Yellowstone National Park is long overdue for a monster eruption that could leave as much as half the U.S. under a blanket of ash. And there are rumblings the big one could be imminent in the wake of a series of 30-plus mini-earthquakes in the park over the past few days—too weak to be felt by humans for the most part but picked up by the seismometers at the University of Utah.
After all, the geologic record shows that the giant caldera we affectionately call Yellowstone has blown every 600,000 years or so over the past 2 million years. The last big eruption? About 640,000 years ago when the park spit out about 240 cubic miles worth of rock, dirt, magma and other stuff.
But don't panic yet. Although the earthquake swarm continues, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, the volcano alert level remains normal. And a slew of larger earthquakes have occurred throughout the western U.S., Alaska, Puerto Rico and even Pennsylvania in the past week without incident, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
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