Do Unusual Amounts of Helium at Yellowstone’s “Super Volcano” Signal a Soon-Coming Eruption?

Yellowstone’s “super volcano” seems to be awakening. There have been a number of dire warnings issued over the past few years, but the recent warnings seem to be more credible.

The ground has swelled, new cracks have appeared, and a 3.6 earthquake happened in the area on February 11. All of these things indicate the possibility of a soon-coming eruption.

But the most disturbing development of all is the release of large amounts of helium from below the surface of the earth. And not just any helium, but a rare type of helium called “helium-4.”

Yellowstone Steam Plumes
Steam plumes rise over the Firehole River in Yellowstone Park. (Credit: Ken McGee / U.S. Geological Survey)

Right now, thousands of times more helium-4 is being released than would normally be expected. Some fear this is a predictor of soon-coming volcanic activity

For instance, as the volcanic island of El Hierro, the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, rumbled and groaned over the course of seven months in 2011 and 2012, gases silently percolated up through the island’s soil and groundwater.

Eventually, a spectacular plume appeared off the southern coast of the island, a sign that El Hierro volcano, an underwater volcano just offshore, had finally erupted.

The team’s analyses show that, as the El Hierro volcano began to stir, the crust fractured and helium, mostly from the mantle, flowed to the surface. As the actual eruption began, gas flow at the surface increased dramatically, and gas pressure beneath the island dropped. Then as seismic activity at El Hierro picked up again, the crust fractured and deformed extensively, and helium-4 became a larger component of the total helium released on the island.

Some people believe that everything within a 500-mile radius would be instantly killed or destroyed if Yellowstone’s super volcano ever erupted.

Don’t be scared. Be prepared.
-Survival Joe