Skip to comments.Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years
Posted on 03/31/2014 1:23:50 AM PDT by Star Traveler
(Reuters) - Yellowstone National Park, which sits atop one of the world's largest super-volcanoes, was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.
The tremor, a relatively light event by seismic standards, struck the northwest corner of the park and capped a flurry of smaller quakes at Yellowstone since Thursday, geologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a statement.
The latest earthquake struck at 6:34 a.m. near the Norris Geyser Basin and was felt about 23 miles away in two small Montana towns adjacent to year-around entrances to the park - Gardiner and West Yellowstone.
The national park spans 3,472 square miles (8,992 square km) of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and draws about 3 million visitors each year to its iconic geysers and wildlife attractions, including bison.
A U.S. Geological Survey team planned to tour the Norris Geyser Basin on Sunday to determine if the quake altered any of Yellowstone's geothermal features, such as geysers, mud pots and hot springs.
Several people reported having felt shaking they compared to the rumble of a tractor-trailer truck driving by, and a few items fell off the shelves at a local grocery store, a West Yellowstone police dispatcher said.
About 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes strike Yellowstone each year, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a research partnership of the park, the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey.
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A supervolcano is any volcano capable of producing a volcanic eruption with an ejecta volume greater than 1,000 km3 (240 cu mi). This is thousands of times larger than normal volcanic eruptions.
Supervolcanoes can occur either when magma in the mantle rises into the crust from a hotspot but is unable to break through the crust, thus pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure (this is the case for the Yellowstone Caldera), but they can also form at convergent plate boundaries (for example, Toba).
Although there are only a handful of Quaternary supervolcanoes, supervolcanic eruptions typically cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash and cause a long-lasting change to weather (such as the triggering of a small ice age) sufficient to threaten species with extinction.
This supervolcano averages one of its eruptions every 600,000 years. Its now been 640,000 years since the last one.
The Yellowstone Supervolcano: New Finding Potential to Erupt With 2,000 Times the Force of Mount St. Helens
A new study by the University of Utah revealed that the hot molten rock beneath Yellowstone National Park is 2 ½ times larger than previously estimated, meaning the parks supervolcano has the potential to erupt with a force about 2,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens. By measuring seismic waves from earthquakes, scientists were able to map the magma chamber underneath the Yellowstone caldera as 55 miles long, lead author Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah said after presenting his findings last week to the American Geophysical Union. The last Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The chamber is 18 miles wide and runs at depths from 3 to 9 miles below the earth, he added. That means there is enough volcanic material below the surface to match the largest of the supervolcanos three eruptions over the last 2.1 million years, Farrell said. The largest blast the volcanos first was 2,000 times the size of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. The USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory listed the parks volcano alert level as normal for December.
Some scientists tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstone have warned the caldera is overdue to erupt. Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isnt enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption. We do believe there will be another eruption, we just dont know when. A large earthquake at Yellowstone is much more likely than a volcano eruption, Farrell added. The 7.5-magnitude Hebgen Lake earthquake killed 28 people there in 1959.
Some 640,000 years ago there was a colossal cauldron of magma, a supervolcano, that exploded with such violence that it left an ash layer almost ten feet deep a thousand miles away in eastern Nebraska killing all plant life and covering almost all of the United States west of the Mississippi. Modern geological surveys have shown that this supervolcano erupts catastrophically every 600,000 years. The land that supervolcano is trapped in was called by Blackfoot Indians the land of evil spirits -what we know today as Yellowstone National Park.
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If that baby blows WE ARE SCREWED!!!
If this ever erupts, it will take our minds completely off global warming.
You better move....after you go to bed...
If it blows, I’m uh gonna hit every woman I’ve had an interest in for years.
The magma, during this experience, will be epic....
Last caldera forming eruption was a minor one that formed west thumb caldera in Yellowstone lake “174,000” years before present.
A minor eruption.
Probably one of several that precede a large eruption.
I have always wondered why that vast energy resource couldn’t be tapped for power and to ease the pressure at the same time
“Modern geological surveys have shown that this supervolcano erupts catastrophically every 600,000 years.”
Oh ... don’t worry about it too much. It’s the same supervolcano it’s always been ... since I was born ... :-) ...
BTW, are you familiar with how they first discovered the supervolcano under Yellowst one?
Years ago, a geologist was rowing across the lake early one spring.. As he got to shore, he noticed that all the trees on one end were dying., because they were submerged under several feet of water. The deformation of the caldera under the lake had pushed water to the edges, and it rose.
Talk about an AHA!!! moment
Now that you mention it and relate the story ... it does sound familiar.
Well, when it does go off, remember to post it under BREAKING NEWS!!
Depending on the moderator on duty it may not stay there long.
Not a question of “if”, but WHEN. Same goes for the Subduction Quake that will devastate the west coast (Portland to Vancouver). Or the New Madrid Fault, etc. The earthquakes I am concerned about, as a high percentage will survive - but life will be VERY challenging afterwards for quite awhile.
Yellowstone? Not too concerned. Not too much that I can do to prepare for the genuine, world-wide apocalypse that will occur.
Well, we know why the bison were running.
God morning! I like your tag line. Check out mine..I switch back to it every once in a while
This will take care of the bread basket. Wonder if the infultrators are helping this event along
Yawn... Yellowstone is always moving. The whole basin breaths, so what’s the big deal about a 3.x?
Yep, still... Nothing.
Something other than “Ah-hah” came to mind, but I know where you’re going with that...lol!
It was a 4.8, highest magnitude there in 34 years.
They did that in hawaii and the residents complained about noise, smell, health, acid, eye irriation/breathing.
I think they’re expanding now anyway but it was set back years because of the complaints.
Are there a lot of women you want to hit?
Yep it’s that global warming thingy causing it.
Pinatubo dropped global temps. by .4C for several months. Yellowstone would drop global temps by 10 C for at least ten years. The falling ash would kill virtually all life on the entire N. American continent.
If the Yellowstone super volcano blows, say good bye to the US and large parts of the world as the cloud of ash could seriously affect climate around the world.
To make it more scarier it should be called megavolcano.
“Fasten your seatbelt, Dorothy, ‘cause Kansas is going bye bye.”
With 3 billion weemen on the planet there’s a veritable candy store of em.
1. Because they are really vast.
2. Because we have no way to actually control the amount of energy there.
The few 'Geothermal Energy" sites we have pump cool water down a few hundred feet into some hot rocks to make some steam. Hot rocks and a pool of liquid magma at a few thousand degrees the size of Rhode Island are two different propositions.
Bottom line... we can't do what you suggest, and even if we could, the Earth would just make more magma. We could not win that pissing contest.