Yellowstone Facing Swarm of Earthquakes

by JBullock

Justin Bullock, FISM News


Yellowstone National Park has experienced a swarm of more than 141 earthquakes with many occurring below Yellowstone Lake. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) such occurrences are common in the Yellowstone region. However, this many earthquakes is larger than average and is already being compared to the famous 2008-2009 phenomena in Yellowstone where just over 800 earthquakes occurred including a larger earthquake at 4.1 magnitude.

These swarms make up approximately half of the seismographic activity in the Yellowstone area. They normally consist of relatively small earthquakes with a minor degree of magnitude. The current event appears to be pretty standard for swarms in the area, and is not expected to cause any problems in the region.

The only concerning aspect is that it is located along a boundary fault deep in the earth which was originally created by a long dormant volcano underneath Yellowstone. While earthquake swarms are common along boundary fault lines, some geologists are paying attention to this particular area as at least two other swarms have occurred within the past year and a half, roughly in the same spot. However, the USGS reassured Americans that no apocalyptic eruption is expected for a very long time, but also commented that if there was an eruption it could be a catastrophic event,

Such a giant eruption would have regional effects such as falling ash and short-term (years to decades) changes to global climate. Those parts of the surrounding states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that are closest to Yellowstone would be affected by pyroclastic flows, while other places in the United States would be impacted by falling ash (the amount of ash would decrease with distance from the eruption site).