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A 100-foot crack on a rock wall at Grand Teton National Park in 2018 has no connection to volcanic activity at nearby Yellowstone National Park, as a Facebook post falsely claims.
Fear not. If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park this summer, there’s no need to cancel your reservations, as one ominous Facebook post might have you consider.
"NASA just announced a 100ft wide fissure-crack just opened up Yellowstone volcano in 24hrs," read a headline and caption with a video shared May 1 on Facebook.
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The Facebook post misleads by taking a real, but minor, event from 2018 at Grand Teton National Park, falsely tying it to NASA and twisting it to imply that a volcano at nearby Yellowstone National Park has erupted. But an eruption hasn’t happened in thousands of decades.
Yellowstone National Park, which spans 2.2 million acres in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, is home to an active volcano that has had three "immense" eruptions over the past 2.1 million years, the most recent about 70,000 years ago, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The Yellowstone region has a long volcanic history and is monitored by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a consortium of nine states and federal agencies, for volcanic, hydrothermal and earthquake activity.
There is nothing on the observatory’s website about a volcano eruption, nor is there in a May 1 video during which Mike Poland, the scientist in charge of the observatory, gave a monthly update about activity at the volcano. According to the USGA website, there’s no volcanic activity that suggests an eruption is imminent.
A 100-foot-wide crack did open, but it was not in Yellowstone National Park. It appeared in 2018 on a rock buttress above the Hidden Falls viewing area near Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park, which is just south of Yellowstone.
The crack was neither linked to Yellowstone’s volcano, nor announced by NASA . It was discovered by climbing guides, who alerted park rangers, according to a July 18, 2018, National Park Service press release.
Poland told PolitiFact "the crack at Grand Teton was not in any way associated with Yellowstone." There has been no crack recently discovered at Yellowstone, he said. Poland said most of the claims in the video about Yellowstone's volcanic nature, including that the system is "recharging," are also false.
The National Park Service said in the release that rockfalls are common in the Teton Range and can be triggered by freeze-thaw cycles and flowing water. The release didn’t mention the Yellowstone volcano.
Rangers closed down Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, two popular tourist viewing spots in the park, because of concern the rock could fall on them. After a risk assessment, a portion reopened a month later. In November 2018, the large chunk of rock fell from the mountainside.
The Grand Tetons crack and the Yellowstone volcano remain unconnected. And there’s no evidence an eruption at Yellowstone has happened recently or is imminent. The claim is False.
UPDATE, May 4, 2023: This story includes a response received after publication from Mike Poland, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. The rating is unchanged.
Email interview, Mike Poland, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, May 4, 2023
Jackson Hole News & Guide, "Growing rock fissures close Hidden Falls," July 10, 2018
Jackson Hole News & Guide, "Cracking rock buttress finally falls above Hidden Falls," Nov. 14, 2018
East Idaho News, "100 feet of rock breaks away from mountainside in Grand Teton National Park," Nov. 14, 2018
National Park Service, "Scientists Monitor rock buttress and conduct risk assessment," July 18, 2018
National Park Service, "Yellowstone volcano," accessed May 3, 2023
KRTV, Great Falls, Montana, "The hype about a "crack" affecting the Yellowstone supervolcano is not real," July 25, 2018
KTVH, Helena, Montana, "Fact check: Supervolcano warnings are fake news, clickbait," July 25, 2018
Snopes, "Fissure opens up near Yellowstone, causing park closures and irresponsible headlines," July 18, 2018
IFL Science, "A crack appeared near Yellowstone. You'll never guess what happened next," July 18, 2018
Discover Magazine, "That fissure opening "near" Yellowstone? Not a sign of an impending eruption.," July 20, 2018
U.S. Geological Survey, "Monthly update of activity at Yellowstone volcano, May 1, 2023," May 1, 2023
U.S. Geological Survey, "Volcanic Hazards at Yellowstone," accessed May 3, 2023
U.S. Geological Survey, "Yellowstone Volcano Observatory," accessed May 3, 2023
U.S. Geological Survey, "Questions about future volcanic activity at Yellowstone," accessed May 3, 2023
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