Earthquake Swarm at Yellowstone

Posted on December 31, 2008

A recent earthquake swarm at Yellowstone park ignited fears that the Yellowstone caldera could explode in a devastating supervolcano. Bloomberg reports on the swarm and quoted geophysics professor Robert Smith who says the Yellowstone quake swarm is not an indicator of an imminent threat.

Earthquakes are common in Yellowstone, which averages 1,000 to 2,000 tremors a year, and its 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of geologic activity, the Salt Lake City-based university said in a statement on its Web site. The park covers sections of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

"This is not any indicator" of an imminent threat, Robert Smith, a professor of geology and geophysics, said in a telephone interview from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "It's part of the ongoing activity of Yellowstone being an active and alive volcanic system."

The university's network of 28 seismographs in the area started picking up the tremors on Dec. 26, and more than 250 quakes have been recorded since then -- including nine greater than magnitude 3.0 and about 24 between magnitude 2.0 and 3.0. Some visitors have reported feeling the quakes.

The Yellowstone caldera will explode someday but it could be tens of thousands of years from now. More on the earthquake swarm here, here and here. The website for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory can be found here.

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