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Protocols for Geologic Hazards Response by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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posted on Aug, 7 2010 @ 01:51 AM
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An important new document has been compiled by the USGS and other agencies to aid other authorities and the public in understanding new event mitigation practices put in place to better and more comprehensively deal with any change in status of the Yellowstone Volcano system.

Considering the tremendous interest in this volcano at ATS and elsewhere, it is important to familiarize yourself with these new methods, and the agencies that will be involved. Here is the executive summary:


Executive Summary
The Yellowstone Plateau hosts an active volcanic system, with subterranean magma (molten rock), boiling, pressurized waters, and a variety of active faults with significant earthquake hazard. Within the next few decades, large and moderate earthquakes and hydrothermal explosions are certain to occur. Volcanic eruptions are less likely, but are ultimately inevitable in this active volcanic region. This document summarizes protocols and tools to be used by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) during earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hydrothermal explosions or any similar geological activity that could lead to a volcanic eruption.

As needed, YVO will be an advisor within the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The YVO Branch within the Operations Section of the Incident Command will consist of three prescribed groups (Monitoring, Information, and Support). The three groups and their subsidiary teams form a scalable system to respond to a variety of scenarios of geological and volcanic unrest. The YVO response will be organized through an event coordination committee, led by the YVO Branch Chief (also known as the Scientist-in-Charge) and consisting of the group supervisors and the existing YVO coordinating scientists. An independent advisory board will work in conjunction with YVO to suggest further avenues for monitoring and research during quiescent periods and will provide scientific oversight to crisis response during unrest.

Formal alerts and information statements will be issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with YVO partners and through standard telephone and Internet “calldown” lists. External communications will be coordinated by the public information team leader, in association with any Joint Information Center set up through the Incident Command. Internal communications will be handled through a computerized log system that can be used as an archive for public and non-public documents and to provide a forum for discussion by observatory personnel and collaborators.

Within 2 months of publication of this document, provisional group supervisors and team leaders will be assigned. The response plan will be updated every three years by the YVO coordinating scientists and will be available through the YVO and USGS public websites. The calldown list will be updated at least once per year and placed on the internal log system.


The entire pdf can be downloaded here:

pubs.usgs.gov...

A particularly critical section can be found on page 11, which deals with what types events or combination of events would trigger status changes or alerts for Yellowstone:


5. Alert Notification Scheme and Decision Criteria

The VHP criterion for a Volcano Advisory includes the following: “Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.” Assessing what constitutes elevated unrest is somewhat subjective and at Yellowstone requires consideration of both the type and level of activity, as well as the historic behavior of the volcanic and hydrothermal system. For example, during an earthquake swarm, activity may be above background levels but is not necessarily precursory to an eruption. This is in contrast to many stratovolcanoes that most commonly experience swarms or ground deformation as a direct result of magma ascent into the upper crust. At Yellowstone, however, earthquake swarms and caldera-wide ground deformation are relatively common events that can reflect regional tectonism, hydrothermal pressurization, or deep magma intrusion that appear to have occurred for thousands of years without ever leading to a volcanic eruption. Similar activity is noted at other large calderas around the world.

The following five guidelines will inform YVO decision making during future episodes of geological activity.

(1) YVO may choose to initiate an event response for an intense earthquake swarm, an episode of rapid ground displacement, a significant hydrothermal explosion that generates a large crater (tens to hundreds of meters in diameter), or a pronounced increase in heat or gas discharge.

(2) An alert level change from Normal to Volcano Advisory (with accompanying change of aviation color code from Green to Yellow) may be declared when monitoring parameters exceed known thresholds previously observed at Yellowstone. One example could be if an intense earthquake swarm (>500 earthquakes, some with magnitude > 4.5) is accompanied by a rapid change in ground displacement (for example, > 5 cm over 30 days) or a significant hydrothermal explosion. It is unlikely that a Volcano Advisory would be called for a single large earthquake and its sequence of aftershocks unless it had considerable accompanying pre-earthquake ground displacement and (or) hydrothermal explosions. It is possible that lesser activity could trigger announcement of a Volcano Advisory. It is also possible that in some situations YVO would choose not to issue a Volcano Advisory, unless all three criteria (an intense earthquake swarm, rapid ground displacement, and a significant hydrothermal explosion) were met. The Yellowstone hydrothermal system normally releases abundant CO2 and H2S, but does not normally release the high-temperature sulfur gas SO2, therefore, any significant release of SO2 would merit serious consideration for issuance of a Volcano Advisory.

(3) A change in alert level from Normal/Green to Advisory/Yellow will always trigger a formal event response by YVO.

(4) Changes in alert levels and color codes or declaration of an event response is the responsibility of the YVO Branch Chief, who will normally consult closely with the other coordinating scientists before making any such decision.

(5) Change from a higher alert level and color code (Advisory or Watch) to a lower alert level will be at the discretion of the YVO Branch Chief, in association with the event coordination committee. The criteria for such a decision are likely to vary widely, depending on the nature of the event.


This will be of particular interest to those that have been following any number of Yellowstone threads at ATS and other sites, seeing as many people have a tendency to question why the USGS or YVO has not changed the volcano's status in the past during some of the heavier earthquake swarm activity.

In light of this, the answer appears simple: because there has not been the critical combination of events to warrant changing the status in the past. It's interesting that a swarm in itself can trigger an alert, but only if the quakes exceed certain magnitudes. A swarm combined with a hydrothermal explosion can also trigger an alert.

In short, this is a very informative document that shows just how seriously MANY people take that volcano, and the extent to which they are now prepared to manage any sudden change in status or catastrophic event. The sheer number of agencies and personnel involved make me feel a bit more at ease that if anything were to happen at Yellowstone, the best people in the world for the job would be on it immediately.

ETA: Hmm, I see that ATS now automatically cuts off external quotes.


I don't make a habit of excessive quoting, but I wish in this case the paragraphs I quoted would appear complete. Oh well.
You'll have to go read them in the source document.

[edit on Sat Aug 7th 2010 by TrueAmerican]




posted on Aug, 7 2010 @ 02:01 AM
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Thanks for posting this, S&F for you.

I haven't gotten very far into the document yet but so far, it's a good read for a government document. I may post further once I've read more.



posted on Aug, 7 2010 @ 02:58 PM
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reply to post by soontide
 


Yeah thanks. It's not really that long to read. Here's some curious points from the report:


It is unlikely that a Volcano Advisory would be called for a single large earthquake and its sequence of aftershocks unless it had considerable accompanying pre-earthquake ground displacement and (or) hydrothermal explosions.


So if there was post earthquake ground displacement, that is not cause for alarm?


It is possible that lesser activity could trigger announcement of a Volcano Advisory.


Well if the huge swarms we had weren't enough to trigger any advisory, what lesser activity is there that would trigger one?


It is also possible that in some situations YVO would choose not to issue a Volcano Advisory, unless all three criteria (an intense earthquake swarm, rapid ground displacement, and a significant hydrothermal explosion) were met. The Yellowstone hydrothermal system normally releases abundant CO2 and H2S, but does not normally release the high-temperature sulfur gas SO2, therefore, any significant release of SO2 would merit serious consideration for issuance of a Volcano Advisory."


So anyone found a link at USGS or YVO that tracks SO2 emissions specifically?



posted on Aug, 7 2010 @ 03:27 PM
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S&F. I am know expert in this subject matter, in fact far from it. I do believe however, that this preperation for an event, merits more attention than it has recieved.



posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 10:28 PM
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Originally posted by MsAmen
I do believe however, that this preperation for an event, merits more attention than it has recieved.


Are you kidding? This is conspiracy land! Who in their right conspiratorial demented mind would want to know the real truth about Yellowstone and the excellent people working behind the scenes to mitigate any event that might happen there??? Huh?

It's much more fun to perpetuate BS, talk about how the moon cycles will cause it to erupt, and fearmonger your way into ATS stardom!
There's no place for quality information like this around here, because it shatters their doom-laden, delusional, self-absorbed state of ignorance. Can't have that, now, can we...



posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 10:38 PM
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reply to post by TrueAmerican
 
Wow TA '
'
Don't be so angry,.
So whdoya think.
an event in the near future?
she certainly has had a strong twitch,.
I guess I'd say Not to worry ,... You?


















posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 10:55 PM
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reply to post by Lil Drummerboy
 


Sure there are going to be "events." We might see a huge quake. We might see a huge hydrothermal event. We might see a new mud volcano, or even a new geyser form, or maybe even another geyser get completely put out by another hydrothermal explosion. But until the YVO/USGS starts worrying and issuing alerts based on multiple, coincident symptoms, I wouldn't worry too much about Yellowstone erupting.


Ground Deformation Summary: On the basis of detailed analysis of the Yellowstone GPS data, the period of accelerated Yellowstone caldera uplift, beginning in 2004, appears to have notably decreased in the last several months toward long-term background levels.

volcanoes.usgs.gov...


Long-term background levels. Personally, I believe the magma has found a way out of the park which effectively serves as a release valve. No eruption in our lifetimes, or that of your great, great, great, great, great grandkids, either.



posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 11:07 PM
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reply to post by TrueAmerican
 


To the best of my knowledge, there is no site to find on the internet that gives us the information to any sort of emissions. I have been looking for years. Heck - we can't even get lake gage discharge or stream flow info. year round and I don't want to hear anything about ice.

Also, while they have a number of agencies involved in the protocal - please note the number of people involved in each agency that has been assigned if an event started - IMO, not as many as you would hope for. The park is huge and I do not imagine only a few people could monitor this on a larger scale eruption.



posted on Aug, 8 2010 @ 11:39 PM
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reply to post by Anmarie96
 


I believe what the report stated was that the number of people and agencies assigned would be commensurate with the event. The bigger and more potentially hazardous the event, the more agencies and people would be involved.

But thanks though for replying about the gas emissions. I can't find much on that either. I believe the report said those are measured 28 times a year- so roughly twice a month.



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