New Development in Yellowstone?

Just saw this article on Facebook, [&action_type_map=[%22og.likes%22]&action_ref_map="]Yellowstone releasing new Helium]([430504127080443)

It is from a Prepper website, but still concerning for me.

Anything to back this up on legitimate sources?

Thisis the only reputable source I could come by, but it’s all over lots of news websites, so yes it’s happening. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

Here’s a nice non-whack-job version from NPR. It has some good info including a decent explanation as to why the helium is coming the surface now.


But seriously, even though we’ve never observed a supervolcanic explosion in human history so we can’t know for certain, it’s logical to assume that a genuine super-eruption would be preceded by LOTS and LOTS of unambiguous warning signs, far more than just a few helium farts. We’re talking about an end-of-the-world scenario, so presumably, the Earth should give us plenty of time to accept our fate before it’s finally Game Over, Man.

When Yellowstone erupts it will certainly not be an “end of the world” scenario. Much of the western half of the US will be covered in ash, and certainly millions of people will die and be affected, but the eastern half of the US will hardly even notice. The planet will probably cool by several degrees for a few years. The economic damage will be huge, and will probably disrupt a lot of food production in the US.

But it won’t be the end of the world.

The definitive site -

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 …

The last Yellowstone eruption ejected roughly one hundred times the amount (240 cubic miles) of rock, dust and ash compared to Mt. Pinatubo. An “end of the world” as we know it is highly probable.

According to the news report, this “recent” event began about a million years ago.

The article in the link in the OP says that the release is a new thing, and a disturbing sign and portent. The other two articles say that it’s been going on for a couple of million years and that it was only discovered recently. Very much not the same thing as just starting recently.

The definitive site, which is really cool BTW - thanks Duckster - says that the discovery has lead researchers to recalculate the size of the “magma body beneath Yellowstone” but not to change their opinion that there’s no eruption immanent.

So the article was sensationalist BS. Possibly aided by poor reading skills.

WAG: how would a hypothetical Yellowstone eruption compare to the Toba eruption which, IIRC, damn near did kill off every H.sapiens when it was all said and done?

Both the Toba Event and Yellowstone event are ranked an 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, i.e., apocalyptic.

People in pre-historic Indonesia appear to have survived the Toba eruption 75,000 years ago. But yeah, they say mankind went through a bottleneck at about that time.

Duckster, doubt the E USA is going to shrug it off then. (Not that I think you were advocating that.)

The diego, wasn’t the bottleneck estimated by geneticists to be something like 750 individuals? Not saying it’d be that bad with our tech, but IMHO, it’d really mess stuff up. Like strategic thermonuclear exchange mess up.

No, the eastern half of the US will notice, CNN will be broadcasting it live for one thing. Also, the economic impact. Lack of agriculture in the major US “breadbaskets”. That sort of thing. They’d notice.

It will, however, be one hell of a change.

I seem to recall it more as “1,000 breeding pairs”, or perhaps as few as 750 breeding pairs from whatever source you’re using, which would be around 1500 individuals doing the breeding though I’d expect a few more folks who weren’t breeding at the time to be hanging around as well.

About 3k to 10k individuals are frequent guesstimates. No regular census back then so we’ll never have an exact number.

Cecil wrote a column on the Yellowstone supervolcano a few years back, but there’s nothing about helium emissions: Is Yellowstone Park sitting on a supervolcano that’s about to blow?

I think they mean humans somewhere on earth survived the Toba eruption…not necessarily people in Indonesia?

It’s rather confusing. On the face of it that report says nothing new is actually happening, but then they are talking about the volcanic activity dating back way before the most recent supereruption. So is the amount of helium being released actually increasing right now, or is it just that they have now realised the amounts don’t tally with their models (and never have)?

Not Indonesia only, all humans on Earth:

I’ve always wondered if the Toba Catastrophe was responsible for kicking our species’ evolution into high gear. The survivors of that ancient apocalypse would be the intelligent, resourceful individuals, or at least the ones who understood that we could not afford a mine shaft gap.

As for Yellowstone, the ash cloud would completely blanket most of the central U.S., creating massive crop failure, which is bad enough to crash the world economy completely. Plane travel all across North America (remember Eyjafjallajökull?) would be impossible. The good news is that we wouldn’t have to worry about AGW for a long time – global temperatures would drop 5-10° as a nuclear winter-like condition sets in for up to a century.

Frankly, our best bet is to hope it doesn’t happen for at least 10,000+ years, by which time our species’ technology should be advanced enough to mitigate the damage or even prevent it entirely…unless, of course, we’ve found some other unforseen way to destroy ourselves before then.

If nothing else, you’d also get significant ashfall in the eastern US. When Mt. St. Helens went off, western Montana got three inches of ash. Now, admittedly, that’s a shorter distance than Yellowstone to New York, but Yellowstone is a heck of a lot bigger than Mt. St. Helens, and is also east of the bulk of the Rockies, which the Mt. St. Helens ash had to cross.

And of course the airborn ash would be worse than the stuff that falls. How many years without a summer would we face?

The southern hemisphere would fare significantly better, due to the difficulty in air masses crossing the equator. Even if they’re not directly affected, though, they’ll still face huge economic consequences from the loss of their trading partners, and possibly huge humanitarian aid.

Mt. Saint Helens ranked 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (comparable to Vesuvius 69AD, equivalent to 25+ modern nuclear bombs.)

Yellowstone, historically, has ranked 8+, which is 1,000x more powerful.