• The Yellowstone supervolcano’s seismic threat

    Courtesy of the USGS

    Courtesy of the USGS

    The supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park was in the news quite a bit last spring. New findings coupled with a string of small earthquakes fueled some wild rumors of its impending explosion.

    But what really is the risk?

    Writer Jack Ballard explored that question in our feature in the Sept/Oct issue. Scientists inside the park of been studying the volcano for decades. And, as Jack found out, better technology means better knowledge about the beast.

    They say it’s unlikely the volcano will erupt anytime. More likely: Earthquakes.

    In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Smith and a team researchers concluded that the Yellowstone-Teton region represents the area of greatest seismic hazard in the western United States. The project also analyzed earthquake risk in relation to the various fault lines radiating from the caldera of Yellowstone’s most recent, albeit very ancient, super-volcano. Of those, the team concluded major quake activity was most likely to occur on the Teton Fault which extends from the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park into the Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming.

    The USGS has a ton of information about the likelihood of any major disaster caused by the supervolcano. The Q&A is particularly interesting.

    Like Jack found out from the scientists who know the supervolcano best, it’s likely that the more you know, the less you’ll have to fear.


  • Grand Prismatic spring from the sky. Photo by Tom Murphy

    Mapping magma in the Sept/Oct issue out this week

    You’ve probably heard of the supervolanco that lives under Yellowstone National Park. Researchers recently discovered it contains 2.5 times more magma the previously thought and reported their findings in a study released just as a swarm of small earthquakes hit the park. But is it a thing to fear? We’ll tell you in the September/October issue of Montana Magazine.

    Our cover image, by Tom Murphy, is a shot of some of the mystical and almost other worldly geological features created around Yellowstone by the supervolcano and volcanism of the past.

    Writer Jack Ballard writes about how scientists map magma and catalog quakes in his great story about the supervolcano.

    Funny enough, our other Yellowstone-focused story takes a look at one of the most gentle creatures inside the park. As writer Corinne Garcia tells us, an artist with a love for winged bugs is helping hoards of park visitors learn more about butterflies.

    Spoiler alert: There are a lot of butterflies inside Yellowstone.

    An autumn morning looking south from the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Cathie and Gordon Sullivan

    An autumn morning looking south from the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Cathie and Gordon Sullivan

    You’ll also need to see the spread of gorgeous photos by Cathie and Gordon Sullivan, who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and Sen. Lee Metcalf’s role in its passage with their “In the Name of Nature” Portfolio.

    That’s accompanied by a another great story by Jack Ballard about how the lands protected by the Wilderness Act continue to draw tourists and support Montana outdoor-based businesses.

    As always – we hope you enjoy our most recent issue.