The claim: Yellowstone officials closed the park due to rising ‘volcanic uplift’
Social media users claim Yellowstone National Park has been closed due to an impending natural disaster.
“Yellowstone officials just closed up the park and said the volcanic uplift is rising,” reads the text in a Dec. 18 Facebook post (direct link, archive link).
The video features clips of volcanic eruptions, explosions, maps and wildlife.
The post was viewed more than 129,000 times on Facebook in just three days.
But the claim is false.
Yellowstone National Park is currently open to the public. Scientists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory said there are no indications of unusual volcanic activity or uplift.
The clips in the video included in the post do not depict the current conditions within Yellowstone National Park. Some of the footage used in the video was taken from various television programs and “2012,” an American science fiction disaster film released in 2009.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the video for comment.
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Park closures are seasonal, due to winter weather and conditions
Linda Veress, a spokesperson for Yellowstone National Park, said the post’s claim was incorrect.
“Yellowstone National Park is open, and there are no plans to close it due to impending volcanic activity,” Veress said in an email.
Some of the park’s roads are closed to wheeled vehicles, but they remain open to snowmobiles and snow coaches as is typical in winter months, according to the National Park Service website.
There is only one road in Yellowstone normally open to year-round traffic, weather permitting. The park usually has a low visitation rate from late October to late April due to seasonal road closures and winter weather.
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No evidence of ‘volcanic uplift’
The Yellowstone Caldera is a massive crater located in the Wyoming territory of the park. The caldera was created after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted more than 600,000 years ago.
The park’s volcano is still active. But Wendy K. Stovall, deputy scientist-in-charge at the observatory, said there are no indications of any sort of danger or eruption.
“There is no unusual volcanic activity at Yellowstone,” Stovall said in an email. “All our volcano monitoring data shows that the volcano is behaving normally.”
The Yellowstone Caldera has actually been sinking by one to two inches a year since 2015, according to Michael Poland, scientist-in-charge at the observatory.
“No place in the park is currently uplifting,” Poland said. “Sometimes the caldera goes up, sometimes it goes down, but always at that same low rate.”
Many of the park’s landmark attractions, including geysers like Old Faithful and hot springs like Grand Prismatic Spring, are a testament to the heat trapped beneath the Earth’s crust.
Both Stovall and Poland said misleading claims about the park’s volcanic activity are common.
Lead Stories and Check Your Fact also debunked this claim.
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Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim Yellowstone officials closed the park due to rising ‘volcanic uplift.’ Yellowstone National Park is open to the public for the winter season, though some roads are closed due to weather conditions. Scientists confirmed there is no unusual or dangerous volcanic activity within the park. Furthermore, scientists said the Yosemite caldera is sinking, not rising.
Our fact-check sources:
- Brittanica, updated Feb. 16, 2018, Yellowstone Caldera
- Linda Veress, Dec. 21, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Wendy K. Stovall, Dec. 21, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Michael Poland, Dec. 21, Phone interview and email exchange with USA TODAY
- National Geographic, updated Nov. 3, Yellowstone Caldera
- National Parks Service, updated Nov. 18, “Super Volcanoes”
- National Parks Service, updated May 18, Old Faithful
- National Parks Service, updated Mar. 24, Grand Prismatic Spring
- National Parks Service, updated Aug. March 31, 2021 Volcano
- National Parks Service, accessed Dec. 21, Yellowstone
- National Parks Service, accessed Dec. 21, Current Conditions
- US Geological Survey, accessed Dec. 21, Is Yellowstone overdue for an eruption? When will Yellowstone erupt?
- US Geological Survey, accessed Dec. 21, Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
- US Geological Survey, Mar. 25, 2019, “Overdue” can apply to library books, bills, and oil changes, but it does not apply to Yellowstone!
- Check Your Facts, Dec. 22, FACT CHECK: NO, THE VOLCANO IN YELLOWSTONE DID NOT ERUPT
- Lead Stories, Dec. 19, Fact Check: ‘Yellowstone Officials’ Did NOT ‘Close Down The Park’ Or Say ‘Volcanic Uplift Is Rising’ On December 18, 2022
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