Fact check: Supervolcano warnings are fake news, clickbait

Posted at 11:39 AM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 16:16:23-04

BOZEMAN – Maybe you’ve seen some of the social media posts warning about a giant fissure causing the emergency closure of Yellowstone National Park?

Those posts were fake news – they were not true.

But enough people asked about them that the US Geological Survey made its own post to clear the air and point out how hype is undermining science.

“They say if the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone were to erupt, an estimated 87,000 people would be killed immediately,” reads a post from Stranger Than Fiction News.

So let’s give reality a chance to surface here.

For starters, there is a 100-foot crack but it’s in Grand Teton National Park, not Yellowstone.

And while Stranger than Fiction news would like you to believe it is 100 feet wide, it’s actually 100 feet long.

And, it’s not a fissure in the ground, it’s a crack in some rocks above the popular Hidden Falls hiking trail.

So the trail is shut down while scientists check it out to make sure rocks won’t fall on some unsuspecting hikers.

What they’ve found so far that it’s just a crack in the rocks, likely caused by the freeze-thaw cycle in the mountains and normal Rocky Mountain uplift.

Since monitoring of the crack began, it hasn’t moved, leading the Park Service to suspect it has not moved since last fall.

But reality has little to do with many supposed digital news sites who are using the crack in the rocks for lucrative clickbait. Snopes calls this irresponsible. Even some well-respected posters like the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore got sucked in and re-posted one of these links.

A scientist from the University of Utah, which runs the seismic monitoring stations in Yellowstone says it’s baseless to link the Grand Teton Crack to the Yellowstone supervolcano.

And about the Yellowstone supervolcano?

The United States Geological Survey says there’s no indication the volcano will have a super-eruption anytime soon and possibly not ever again.

-John Sherer reporting for MTN