It's big, it's bad, but it's not gonna blow.
That's what the USGS is saying to counter a fake web site that's calling for evacuation of Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas due to an impending eruption.
What's "big" and "bad" is the magma chamber under the park. But its been there for hundreds and thousands of years and folks have gotten along with it relatively fine. Apparently the recent swarm of earthquakes in Yellowstone -- which, by the way, have ceased -- has prompted one independent geologist to urge anyone living within 200 miles of the park to head someplace else.
And today comes word that there's a copycat USGS web site with an evacuation order posted on it. Now, I couldn't find it with a quick Google search, but the folks at the USGS have sent out a press release saying that there's no evacuation order in place.
The USGS is not affiliated with a web site that recommends evacuation of Yellowstone National Park and bears the USGS logo. The USGS is not recommending the evacuation of the park. Officials at the USGS are working through the appropriate legal channels to have both the warning and logo removed from the web site.
As for the halt of the earthquake swarm, USGS officials aren't exactly sure if it's just temporary. However, they do know that they haven't issued an evacuation order.
"Changes in the alert level are announced through the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site", reports YVO Scientist-in-Charge, Dr. Jake Lowenstern. "If an evacuation order were necessary, it would be handled through Yellowstone National Park and neighboring communities."
YVO is a cooperative project of USGS, the University of Utah, and Yellowstone National Park. Under the Stafford Act, the USGS has the federal responsibility to issue warnings of potential volcanic disasters.
As for the earthquake swarm, it started around December 26 and rattled off 500 or so quakes, some approaching 4.0 in magnitude.