Scientists Puzzle Over Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm

December 30, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (ChattahBox) — Scientists are closely monitoring more than 250 small earthquakes that have occurred in Yellowstone National Park since Friday. Scientists are watching closely to see whether the tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Those of us fans of the Discovery channel are reminded of the 2005 BBC/Discovery Channel docudrama, Supervolcano Caldera. This December 2008 earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years and is centered on the east side of the Yellowstone caldera.

Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Yellowstone National Park area, but it’s very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, Yellowstone’s 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of this constant geologic activity. The University of Utah, which operates a seismic network, reports the largest of the earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 at 10:15 pm MST on Dec. 27.  The sequence has included nine events of magnitude 3 to 3.9 and approximately 24 of magnitude 2 to 3 at the time of this release. Visitors and National Park Service (NPS) employees in the Yellowstone Lake area reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes.  A magnitude 4 quake is capable of producing moderate damage.

Scientists at this time have not identified any causative fault. Seismologists continue to monitor and analyze the data and will issue new information if the situation warrants it.  In 1959, a magnitude 7.5 quake near Hebgen Lake just west of the park triggered a landslide that killed 28 people. But the Yellowstone caldera volcano last erupted 70,000 years ago.


6 Responses to “Scientists Puzzle Over Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm”

  1. Kirsty on December 30th, 2008 12:17 pm

    Uh Oh …


  2. Gonzo on December 30th, 2008 6:14 pm

    the last time Yellowstone erupted was 620,000-640,000 years ago. not 70,000 years.

  3. admin on December 30th, 2008 6:44 pm

    Wikipedia says: “The most recent lava flow occurred about 70,000 years ago while the largest violent eruption excavated the West Thumb of Lake Yellowstone around 150,000 years ago.”

    But it also says:
    “The three supereruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago;”

  4. RCTucker on December 31st, 2008 2:26 am

    Maybe the geophysicists and seismologists want to hop on board with quakefinder and install some sensors. Perhaps we can get some accurate reads of electromagnetic field changes to see if there really is going to be a “big one” at Yellowstone. I hope not and I know it is a highly active area. I have been to Yellowstone several times and am always impressed by its majestic beauty ~~ even when seeing it just a few months after the huge fire in the 90s. We can thank Teddy Roosevelt for creating the Nat’l Park System and knowing one day it would be the only nature some of us city dwellers get to experience with awe.

  5. G on January 1st, 2009 4:38 pm

    Gotta love the alarmists. If something is going to happen, it will. No need to worry about it and lose sleep. The only thing for sure is if it does go boom, I don’t think we’ll be worried about “carbon Footprints” anymore.

  6. William Costanzo on January 7th, 2009 3:12 pm

    Every now and then I go to the gov,earthquake website and look at the recent quakes.I don’t know if it’s me but it looks like there has bin alot of small earthquakes.More then usual.And there seems to be a pattern leading towards Yellowstone.With an eruption would California end up with a major earthquake?

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