Remember that cluster of earthquakes at Yellowstone last month? You know, when we had nearly 90 earthquakes on just September 10th? It was enough to make you wonder if 2020 has one more nasty trick up her black sleeve.
Then the Express, the UK's bastion of mediocre major journalism (think of it as our New York Post, with no offense intended to the Post) issued a article with this dramatic headline: "Yellowstone volcano: 205 earthquakes rock US supervolcano - is an eruption brewing?"
Well, we're not above an attention-grabbing headline ourselves. But maybe it's worth taking a calm head for once, and recontextualizing all of this with a little science.
Because, though 200+ earthquakes in or near the caldera of one of the world's largest extant supervolcanoes sounds like a great reason to be afraid, it's really not - at least according to Mike Poland, scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.
In a monthly video update on the state of volcanic activity at the park, Poland says that all of those earthquakes might not be anything to worry about after all. After all, he points out, there are some 1500 to 2500 earthquakes a year in the park. And even if 90 in a day still sounds like a bit much, consider that in 2017 there were 300 earthquakes in just one day, and we all seem to be alive today.
All of that having been said, scientists still aren't sure what the lead-up to an eruption looks like because humans weren't around the last time it happened. So if Yellowstone were to blow, we may not recognize the warning signs - but it is safe to surmise that they would be more dramatic than a cluster of small earthquakes.
So we're off the hook. For now...
Check out the full Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory video below!