My daughter and I are headed out on a road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Jackson, Wyoming — just days after researchers from Arizona State University predicted that the supervolcano brewing under Lake Yellowstone could erupt sooner than initially thought.
I’ve been warning both of my kids for years that the supervolcano is overdue for an eruption, since the last one apparently happened about 640,000 years ago, if you believe scientists who have each been on the planet for an average of 46.7 years. With the last three major eruptions spaced about 640,000 years apart, it doesn’t take a statistics degree to figure out that we’re all toast.
My daughter, of course, does not want to hear about any of this.
“We’re going to listen to Abba, Johnny Cash and the soundtrack from Les Miserables in the car,” she informed me on Sunday. “You’re not allowed to talk about the Yellowstone supervolcano on this trip.”
Yeah, OK. We both know the odds. The supervolcano will definitely erupt before that happens.
I’ve been fascinated by the Yellowstone volcano ever since I did a magazine story about it 12 years ago. For years afterward, I insisted on playing an audio history CD about the trouble bubbling beneath my favorite national park every time my family drove through Yellowstone on our annual vacation. The CD (and its accompanying geology book) mysteriously vanished a couple of years ago when I was loading up the car for our trip, and nobody will confess to its whereabouts. So now, as reliably as my grandfather could be counted on to regale us on fishing trips with tales of “the one that got away,” I launch into a historical lesson about the caldera whenever I see the first highway turnoff to the park.
I’ll have plenty to talk about today, with last week’s news that researchers now believe it took only a few decades, not centuries, for temperature changes to build up in the magma chamber before its last eruption, plus recent plans announced by NASA to drill into the chamber in an attempt to cool it down.
So on this mommy-daughter expedition to ground zero, my girl just might need to crank up “The Best of Motörhead” to drown me out. 😳🌋