Yellowstone’s history of hydrothermal explosions over the past 14,000 years

While much of public attention on Yellowstone focuses on its potential to produce large supereruptions, the hazards that are much more likely to occur are smaller, violent hydrothermal explosions. Hydrothermal explosions occur when near-boiling water suddenly flashes into steam, releasing large amounts of energy. The energy release fractures the rock downward, often leaving behind a crater. The same sources that can produce these explosions are what give Yellowstone its well-known hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles.