A partial shutdown of the US Government has affected approximately 25 percent of the federal government and some 800,000 employees. With the Government shutdown comes concern over the country’s geological agencies, which monitor Yellowstone for signs of volcanic activity. On Saturday, January 5, the shutdown has become the longest in US history. And as President Trump battles the Democrats to fund his Mexico border wall, the conflict shows no signs of stopping.
Who is tracking Yellowstone activity during the US Government shutdown?
Yellowstone volcano, a volcanic super-system spread across three states in the northwest US, is one of the biggest and most devastating supervolcanoes on the face of the planet.
Yellowstone last erupted some 630,000 to 640,000 years ago, forming the 45-miles-wide (72km) caldera seen today.
The imposing volcano is monitored today by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) – a scientific agency and bureau of the US Department of the Interior.
Responsibility for Yellowstone is further devolved down to the Volcano Hazard Program and the US Volcano Observatories – the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) more specifically.
But as part of the US Government shutdown, the USGS is one of the many agencies affected by the bureaucratic chaos.
Thankfully, the volcano is still being monitored for signs of seismic and volcanic activity.
The USGS issued a brief statement on its website in the wake of the ongoing stalemate, assuring the US public it is keeping a finger on the pulse.
The USGS said: “During the current federal government shutdown, the Volcano Hazard Program and all five US Volcano Observatories will continue to issue updates, warnings, and notifications through the usual channels, including websites, email, and social media.
“The volcano monitoring data on this website will be kept up to date and all monitoring instruments will continue to be operational.
“Static website content will not be updated until further notice and information may be outdated.”
During the shutdown, all five of the USGS’ volcano observatories will continue to monitor volcanoes in the mainland US, Alaska and Hawaii.
And a contingency plan drafted in September 2018, specifies at least 75 employees “needed for the protection of life and property to be retained in the event of a lapse in appropriation” will remain at hand.
Will Yellowstone volcano erupt again?
The odds of Yellowstone erupting in the near future are incredibly slim but geologists do not dismiss the possibility of this happening in the distant future.
Michael Poland, chief scientist of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) ominously said: “It’s an active volcano. It will erupt again.”
The best estimates suggest Yellowstone could potentially erupt again one or two million years from now.
However, according to Ilya Bindeman, of the University of Oregon, Yellowstone is on a “dying cycle”.
The volcano expert said: We know the behaviour of the past and we know at what comparative stage Yellowstone is right now.
“We think Yellowstone is currently on a third cycle, and it’s a dying cycle.”