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Published: Tuesday April 8, 2014 MYT 9:00:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday April 9, 2014 MYT 5:59:40 PM

Yellowstone 'fleeing bison' video goes viral, fuels super-volcano fears

A screen capture of the 'fleeing bison' video taken at Yellowstone that went viral last week, fuelled by fears that the park's super-volcano could erupt.

A screen capture of the 'fleeing bison' video taken at Yellowstone that went viral last week, fuelled by fears that the park's super-volcano could erupt.

Survival panic, or will she really blow? A video allegedly showing bison 'fleeing' from Yellowstone Park's super-volcano went viral after an earthquake hit the park on March 30. 

The backstory began on March 20 when YouTube user Zicutake uploaded a video entitled Animals Fleeing From Yellowstone Supervolcano? showing bison running down a road in Yellowstone Park. This was proof, the video's creators says, that the long dormant super-volcano under the park will erupt in 2014. 

Another YouTube video entitled Animals Leaving Yellowstone? Earthquakes and Seismic Activity went online on March 23, and it shows Tom Lupshu, dressed in camouflage and a black beanie, commenting on the same subject. 

Lupshu would later be revealed as the 'source' who highlighted the 'bison fleeing' video to Zicutake. 

It had all seemed like innocent speculative fun until March 30 when a 4.8-magnitude earthquake hit near the Norris Geyser Basin in the northwest section of Yellowstone, which spans 8,992 sq km of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Although the area is known for small quakes every year, it was the park's strongest quake since 1980. 

And that was when the 'bison fleeing' video, picked up on alternative news sites like Epoch Times, started receiving a huge surge in views. But it also triggered a wave of public panic, rippling across the online community and then back to Yellowstone itself. 

Not the end of the world – just yet

Yellowstone park officials, who had to field dozens of calls and emails from the concerned public demanding if the video's claims are true, flatly dismissed the 'running bison' evidence. 

They say the video actually shows bison galloping down a paved road that leads deeper into the park – not away from it, as was claimed. “It was a spring-like day and they were frisky. Contrary to online reports, it’s a natural occurrence and not the end of the world,” park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. 

The park also uploaded their own video to dispel the super-volcano speculations.

As for the recent earthquake: Even though geologists confirmed it was the largest to rattle Yellowstone since a 4.8 quake in February 1980, they say it was benign by seismic standards. 

Even the fact that it occurred near an area of ground uplift tied to the upward movement of molten rock in the super-volcano – whose mouth, or caldera, is 80km long and 48km wide – failed to worry the scientists. 

The fact is neither the quake, the largest among hundreds that have struck near the geyser basin in the last seven months, nor the uplift suggest an eruption sooner than tens of thousands of years, said Peter Cervelli, associate director for science and technology at the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Science Centre in California.

“The chance of that happening in our lifetimes is exceedingly insignificant,” said Cervelli, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Despite assurances by Yellowstone officials and government geologists that the ancient super-volcano beneath the park is not due to explode for aeons have apparently done little to quell fears among the thousands who have viewed recent video postings of the herd. 

Perhaps they should look at cat videos instead. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Travel, Americas, Features, Science, Yellowstone, National Park, super volcano, volcano, earthquake, animals, fleeing, eruption, hoax, misinformation, YouTube

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