Is there a way to prevent the Yellowstone Caldera from having a super eruption?

Say that we can tell, somehow, that the Yellowstone Caldera will have a major eruption a decade from now. Is there anything we could do to prevent that from happening?

Evacuate the continent.
No way to stop it.

That unpronounceable volcano in Iceland was beyond our engineering capability to mitigate (not that we tried), and that was just a single volcano. There’s no way Yellowstone can be controled.

You could try sacrificing virgins, if you can find any.

Could you open it early? Release the pressure early? So it erupted with less force? ?If you were to drill down into the magma chamber, would the lava flow up smoothly, to be diverted whereever desired, or would you initiate an early full eruption?

Some of the pressure is already being released in the form of geysers. But as far as drilling down who knows what kind of a Pandora’s box that will open.

Evacuate everyone within a 1000 mile radius and then set off a number of deep nuclear explosions that would trigger the event to occur in stages rather than all at once.

Don’t want to use nukes? How about direct a meteor to hit it instead? Wouldn’t that release the pressure in a hurry?

I live in Montana, and although it isn’t likely to blow in my lifetime, I don’t think anyone is seriously thinking about how it can be prevented.

When it does happen it will likely cause a massive amount of damage for tens of thousands of square miles in all directions… although it will be an amazing thing to watch from the ISS…

“The U.S. Geological Survey, University of Utah and National Park Service scientists with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintain that they “see no evidence that another such cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. Recurrence intervals of these events are neither regular nor predictable.”[13]”

That statement was made in 2005. The last eruption was 640000 years ago, so I doubt we’ll see an eruption in our lifetime.

I doubt that it’s possible to drill anywhere near a magma chamber.

I plan to evacuate my bowels.
No way to stop it.

Harry Stamper could do it, but he’s dead.

With current technology? No way.
Maybe, but I don’t think it’s certain, with some futuristic super-advanced geological engineering know-how and drilling technologies, I suppose it might be possible to build an artificial volcano that manages to carefully manage the flow of lava so as to let off enough pressure, while preventing a sudden (i.e. massively explosive) runaway venting situation. Then again we can’t really know if it’s possible until we’re a lot closer to that super-advanced geological engineering know-how.

Why not? We’ve drilled deep before. Sure the hole / vent might not be very big, but wouldn’t that make it more containable? And we just drill as many holes as needed.

I’d say when my 401k runs out, and my daughter and grandkids have joined my goddaughter in Australia, I’d say nuke it so we can enjoy the action in our lifetime (AFTER we attach that web cam on the sperm whale eating a giant squid).

I think what would happen is that a drilled hole would fill with magma, which would solidify en route to the surface, plugging the hole - or in other words, it isn’t for want of a little hole in the overlying rock that the magma is staying down there, for now.

Nope. Geysers are surface water that has percolated down to make contact with hot rocks; eventually it boils, which drives it back up to the surface and starts the whole cycle all over again. The magma deep below that (and any gases contained within that magma) is still down there, still under its original pressure. All the geyser is doing is removing a teeny tiny bit of thermal energy.

The way I see it, trying to relieve pressure on a magma chamber the size of Yellowstone is akin to asking why we don’t use helicopters to airlift the water out of a flood. Anything we can do is so trivial compared to the natural forces involved that it’s laughable.

Yellowstone has erupted with volumes on the order of 600 cubic miles of material. Even if we could drill down to it without causing the eruption we want to prevent, just where do we put that much material? According to my calculations, the Mississippi river takes 5 years to drain that much water.

  1. Pepto-Bismol?

  2. Why would we want to deprive the world of the ultimate viral video made by some idiot who decided to stick around just long enough to record the eruption and upload it to YouTube before the ash cloud got him?

  3. I think this is one of those questions where the proper answer would be, “Theoretically possible, but we lack anything even close to the engineering that would be necessary.”

Couldn’t they just pass an ordinance or something?

As soon as you let us know
a) how to keep the holes from plugging with solidified magma;
b) where exactly to put the holes so that they don’t weaken the overlying rock enough to allow a catastrophic release of pressure;
c) how much lava to allow to exit the holes so as to reduce pressure to safe levels (you’ll need to tell us what a safe level is, by the way) and how fast we can let it out so as to avoid a catastrophic release of pressure;
d) how to control the lava flow so as to avoid a catastrophic release of pressure, and how to stop it once we’ve gotten to a safe pressure level; and
e) how draining the magma will affect the region’s geology, so we can prepare for those changes

then we can start costing things out and deciding if there’s anywhere we can put the lava.