Yellowstone National Park is fighting viral rumors that the park’s bison are fleeing an impending supervolcano eruption.
Officials told Reuters that they’ve been fielding dozens of calls and emails since a video of galloping bison went viral this week in the wake of an earthquake at Yellowstone. They said the video actually shows the animals running down a paved road that leads deeper into the park.
“It was a springlike 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 commentary accompanying the YouTube video, which has attracted 1.4 million views, suggested that the bison somehow might be sensing the imminent eruption of an ancient dormant supervolcano that lies beneath the park in Wyoming.
The video was posted back on March 20, but Sunday’s Yellowstone earthquake added to the viral buzz.
Geologists said the magnitude-4.8 tremor caused no injuries or damage, and did not make any noticeable alterations to the landscape. Though benign by seismic standards, it was the largest to rattle Yellowstone since a 4.8 quake in February 1980. The epicenter was near an area of ground uplift tied to the upward movement of molten rock in the supervolcano, whose mouth, or caldera, is 50 miles long and 30 miles wide (80 by 50 kilometers).