A recent viral video of bison fleeing Yellowstone National Park have whipped up speculation that the volcano underneath the park could be on the verge of erupting. A 5.1-magnitude earthquake shook the park on Sunday, adding to the rumors. However, park public affairs chief Al Nash spoke in a video of his own to quell rumors. According to Nash, it is usual for animals to migrate out of the park around this time of year because food is scarce.
“They tend to migrate outside the park to lower elevations where they think there’s something to eat that’s easier to get at,” he said.
Watch Nash’s full statement below:
Jake Lowenstern, head researcher at the Yellowstone volcano observatory, added that there has been no change in volcanic activity.
“We don’t anticipate an eruption anytime soon,” he told CNN.
Yellowstone National Park is above what many scientists have coined a “supervolcano.” The last eruption of the volcano created the Yellowstone Caldera about 640,000 years ago. Researchers believe that eruption flung 240 cubic miles of volcanic rock and ash into the sky, drastically changing the landscape. If the super volcano blew today, it would measure 10 times greater in force than the last eruption at Mount St. Helens. The volcanic and tectonic nature of Yellowstone also means that the park sees over a thousand measurable earthquakes each year. KABC reported that Sunday’s quake was the strongest in over 30 years. No injuries were reported.
Bison, elk, and other animals regularly migrate in and out of Yellowstone. Although there have been numerous recorded incidents of animals fleeing an area prior to a natural disaster, scientists are still unsure if wildlife can “predict” or otherwise sense these events.
What was the video that caused all the fuss? You can see the bison “evacuation” below: