[Update 6 Sept. 2010: Looking at this post’s title again, I realize the word “ready” is ambiguous there. We will never be ready to be inundated with hundreds or thousands of square miles of ash and lava. The hope is simply that we can be warned in time to get out of the way when it does happen. And that is the best that modern scientists can prepare us for at this time. Such forces of nature do not wait for man to figure them out.]
As I pack for my annual trip to Yellowstone, people ask me if I worry about the escaped Arizona criminals being in the area or the potential eruption of the so-called supervolcano. My answer is no to both, since the chance of running into the criminals is probably less than that of being struck by lightning, and the caldera eruption will give us ample warning, now that the equipment and organization of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory team is in place.
Predicted in our interview with Yellowstone Treasures’s geologist is the putting in place of a scientific team and equipment to detect any changes in underground activity that will precede the next caldera eruption.
You can download a USGS paper detailing the mechanisms for detecting and warning the public about “episodes of unusual geological unrest at the Yellowstone Caldera” at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1351. This sets up an Incident Command System, explains how the various personnel and agencies will be structured and will react with each other in the case of impending danger, and how the public will be kept informed. It also outlines specific scenarios for reaction to catastrophic events.
As for me, I won’t be writing blogs in the next while but will be enjoying favorite places and friends in and around Yellowstone.