Despite Rumors, Yellowstone Hasn’t ‘Closed’ Over Volcanic Concerns
Every week, The Associated Press complies a list of popular but completely untrue stories and visuals running around on social media.
The AP -- a 170-year-old worldwide cooperative of news organizations, including K2 Radio News -- looks into these illegitimate stories.
The top fable this week focused on Yellowstone National Park, alleging park officials "closed down the park" due to a rising “volcanic uplift.”
Here are the facts, according to The Associated Press:
The national park is open and experts say there are no concerns of an impending volcanic eruption.
But a video circulating on Facebook is using alarming imagery of fiery disasters to falsely claim Yellowstone officials “are closing down the park” because “volcanic uplift is rising.”
Experts say the video gets the facts wrong.
“The park is open for the winter season and has not been closed,” Linda Veress, a spokesperson for Yellowstone, told The Associated Press in an email.
The National Park Service website notes that most roads at the park are currently closed to automobiles but open to oversnow vehicles, as is routine during the winter.
That doesn’t mean the park is closed or that it’s experiencing dangerous “uplift,” which refers to the rising of the ground.
“This idea of volcanic uplift in Yellowstone is complete hogwash,” Michael Poland, scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, said in an interview.
Yellowstone has actually experienced a trend of subsidence, or deflation, since 2015, Poland said.
Uplift occurs at volcanoes when magma accumulates beneath the surface, but it can also be the result of things like water or gas accumulation, he said.
For example, Yellowstone can experience a minor uplift when the ground absorbs runoff from melting snow — like a dry sponge absorbing water and growing.
Kari Cooper, a professor and chair of the University of California, Davis, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, likewise said in an email that such ground deformation can be caused by a number of factors.
“The ground surface at Yellowstone is moving all the time, sometimes up and sometimes down, and it would not be cause for concern unless it was outside the normal patterns,” Cooper said.
Poland added that the magma is largely stagnant at Yellowstone and experts are not currently worried about any sort of volcanic eruption.
— Associated Press writer Angelo Fichera in Philadelphia contributed this report.