Guest Videos: Yellowstone Caldera

We’ve met Yellowstone before, but it’s big enough for a second look.

After all, it is one of three active large calderas in the US West, along with Valles and Long Valley.

And Yellowstone is the most famous of these (and the most feared by us laypeople).

Knowledge is always a good antidote for fear.

Dr. Jacob Lowenstern, who was scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) in 2014, did a good introduction to this supervolcano, but as you see there, he had to use a flour model of caldera collapse because Kilauea’s summit crater wouldn’t be filmed as it collapsed in real life until 2018:

Of course, Yellowstone’s Lava Creek collapse was much larger and more explosive than that — more along the lines of Taupo’s Oruanui supereruption, many millennia ago, in New Zealand (in this video when ash blots the screen, watch the red lines at the bottom to see the caldera collapse):

Yellowstone is carefully monitored, and here is the current YVO scientist-in-charge, Dr. Mike Poland, to tell you all about that:

All of the volcanoes that we’ve visited in recent weeks, except for Long Valley, are monitored by the YVO. And we’ll visit more of “their” volcanoes in coming weeks! (Oops! I thought YVO monitored Idaho volcanoes, but that’s done through the Cascades Observatory.)

The USGS has almost 60 Yellowstone videos in its current playlist: everything from monthly YVO updates to various features.

Have fun checking them out!

Another reliable source of general information on the caldera, as well as monitoring data and webcams, is the YVO website, as mentioned in the last video.

Of course, we’ve got to get out into the field here, as we did at Valles and Long Valley.

How to do that in such a big place?

By visiting a part of the caldera that’s well-known to scientists for its many wonders but kind of taken for granted by the rest of us:

A little lagniappe — Some of the caldera’s water resources and thermal features, like geysers and hot springs, in slow motion (turn up the sound, too):

In the news, they announced this week that researchers will be spending a lot of time learning more about Yellowstone’s complex hydrothermal system.

Edited October 6, 2022

Featured image: LHBLLC/Shutterstock

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