Social media misinformation:Yellowstone volcanic unrest post prompts referral to legit sites

The Yellowstone caldera is seen from the Washburn Range – the scene described by Lieutenant Doane of the Washburn expedition in 1870. The caldera extends to the base of the Red Mountains in the upper right of the photo. The rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is in the foreground. 

Jacob W. Frank, NPS

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Michael Poland, geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

On Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles directed and narrated a live radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel “The War of the Worlds.” The incident is famous for supposedly having incited a panic that the events being described were really happening. Some people apparently thought that Martians were invading Earth!

Fast forward over 80 years to the modern day, when an incredible volume of information is literally at people’s fingertips. Such a misinterpretation of a fictional event could never recur. Right?

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