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Seismic Activity - Yellowstone National Park...


Katherine

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Posted
  • Location: Boston, Lincolnshire, UK
  • Location: Boston, Lincolnshire, UK

    Over the last couple of days, the seismic activity at Yellowstone National Park seems to have gone up a gear. There have been a series of small earthquakes, the strongest being a Mag 3.8 that happened yesterday at 22:15. Now, I've seen plenty of those Natural Disasters programmes on National Geographic, Discovery, Discovery Science and some of them discuss the prospect of a 'mega-eruption' happening at the Park, as it holds a large volcano. If this volcano has such an eruption, the programme says the whole Earth will be affected by ash falls and millions could die. Earthquakes are apparently the precursor to such an event; do I have any cause to be worried about this flurry of seismic activity? From the US Geological Survey's web page, here are the full set of Yellowstone quakes:

    2.6 - 2008/12/27 16:30:54 44.497 -110.368 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.5 - 2008/12/27 17:01:08 44.484 -110.367 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.8 - 2008/12/27 18:23:07 44.490 -110.369 0.1 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.5 - 2008/12/27 20:17:33 44.481 -110.362 0.7 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.4 - 2008/12/27 20:26:28 44.488 -110.365 0.3 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.2 - 2008/12/27 22:30:04 44.495 -110.367 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.6 - 2008/12/28 00:08:51 44.493 -110.354 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.8 - 2008/12/28 05:15:56 44.492 -110.365 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.2 - 2008/12/28 09:23:58 44.505 -110.363 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    Any cause for concern?

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    Posted
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......
  • Weather Preferences: Hot & Sunny, Cold & Snowy
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......

    If the quakes continue then it may indicate magma movements within the magma chamber and are probably nothing to worry about. If we end up with the earths surface 'doming' in areas of the park, and associated increases of 'geothermal' activity (out gassing,geyser activity increasing) then maybe this would indicate new magma being fed into the magma chamber and would need closer monitoring.

    Yellowstone ,being the site of a 'mega-volcano', is a very active region with many small quakes each day so I'd guess it was all just 'business as usual' there at present.........then again it is overdue a mega-eruption isn't it????

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    Posted
  • Location: Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland
  • Weather Preferences: Snow, Thunderstorms, Warm summer evenings
  • Location: Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland

    supposedly this type of event in relitivelty common , with 70 of these flurries happening between 1983 and 2006

    Extract from Wikiepida

    "A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck inside the park on June 30, 1975, but damage was minimal. For three months in 1985, 3,000 minor earthquakes were detected in the northwestern section of the park, during what has been referred to as an earthquake swarm, and has been attributed to minor subsidence of the Yellowstone caldera.Beginning on April 30, 2007, sixteen small earthquakes with magnitudes up to 2.7 occurred in the Yellowstone Caldera for several days. These swarms of earthquakes are common, and there have been 70 such swarms between 1983 and 2006.Seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park continues and is reported hourly by the Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey."

    so as Gray Wolf said this is just buisness as usual

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield

    If you want to keep up with what is happening heres a link. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/activity/

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    Guest Shetland Coastie
    Over the last couple of days, the seismic activity at Yellowstone National Park seems to have gone up a gear. There have been a series of small earthquakes, the strongest being a Mag 3.8 that happened yesterday at 22:15. Now, I've seen plenty of those Natural Disasters programmes on National Geographic, Discovery, Discovery Science and some of them discuss the prospect of a 'mega-eruption' happening at the Park, as it holds a large volcano. If this volcano has such an eruption, the programme says the whole Earth will be affected by ash falls and millions could die. Earthquakes are apparently the precursor to such an event; do I have any cause to be worried about this flurry of seismic activity? From the US Geological Survey's web page, here are the full set of Yellowstone quakes:

    2.6 - 2008/12/27 16:30:54 44.497 -110.368 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.5 - 2008/12/27 17:01:08 44.484 -110.367 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.8 - 2008/12/27 18:23:07 44.490 -110.369 0.1 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.5 - 2008/12/27 20:17:33 44.481 -110.362 0.7 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.4 - 2008/12/27 20:26:28 44.488 -110.365 0.3 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.2 - 2008/12/27 22:30:04 44.495 -110.367 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.6 - 2008/12/28 00:08:51 44.493 -110.354 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.8 - 2008/12/28 05:15:56 44.492 -110.365 0.2 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    3.2 - 2008/12/28 09:23:58 44.505 -110.363 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    Any cause for concern?

    Hi Katherine

    Yellowstone is something we've spoken about several times over on the Volcanic activity thread. As GW points out, bursts of activity like this are fairly routine in a system as large and as hydrothermically active as Yellowstone is. The belief is that in the main, these quakes are related to the immense amount of hydrothermal activity that goes on in the caldera. However, all that said, it should also be noted that the entire caldera is experencing 'uplift' or inflation which may indicate the injection of magma into the enormous magma chamber beneath the caldera.

    One other thing to note, however, is that a caldera like Yellowstone regularly undergoes spells of both inflation and deflation, rather akin to the caldera 'breathing'. The hydrothermal activity then often acts like a safety valve in a pressure cooker, allowing any pent up energy to escape.

    The latest estimation by the USGS scientists working at Yellowstone (and believe me Yellowstone is one of the most observed and recorded volcanic areas in the world) is that whilst its been a long time since the last 'supervolcanic' eruption, one does not appear to be due in the near future. What they do say, however, is that a fairly major eruption is likely in our lifetime, perhaps something of the order of Mt St Helens in 1980 for example, or Mt Pinatubo a few years later, which in itself, would be pretty unpleasant for the local inhabitants.

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    Posted
  • Location: Boston, Lincolnshire, UK
  • Location: Boston, Lincolnshire, UK

    Thanks for the responses, there have been two more quakes:

    3.2 - 2008/12/28 19:55:18 44.499 -110.350 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.6 - 2008/12/28 19:32:16 44.511 -110.352 0.3 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    Ever since the programme about the caldera going bananas, I've had a few worries about it happening in my lifetime (I'm 31). What sort of aspects of geologic activity shown by the caldera SHOULD I get worried about? What would be the precursor to some sort of substantial and significant event?

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
    Thanks for the responses, there have been two more quakes:

    3.2 - 2008/12/28 19:55:18 44.499 -110.350 0.4 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    2.6 - 2008/12/28 19:32:16 44.511 -110.352 0.3 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

    Ever since the programme about the caldera going bananas, I've had a few worries about it happening in my lifetime (I'm 31). What sort of aspects of geologic activity shown by the caldera SHOULD I get worried about? What would be the precursor to some sort of substantial and significant event?

    I wouldn't worry about it. Far more chance of being run over or falling down the stairs and you don't worry about that do you. More chance of a 747 landing on your head.

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    Posted
  • Location: Larbert
  • Location: Larbert
    I wouldn't worry about it. Far more chance of being run over or falling down the stairs and you don't worry about that do you. More chance of a 747 landing on your head.

    Oi! You try telling that to the good people of Lockerbie.

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
    Oi! You try telling that to the good people of Lockerbie.

    Okay without some scumbag terrorists interfering.

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    Posted
  • Location: Western Isles
  • Location: Western Isles
    Hi Katherine

    Yellowstone is something we've spoken about several times over on the Volcanic activity thread. As GW points out, bursts of activity like this are fairly routine in a system as large and as hydrothermically active as Yellowstone is. The belief is that in the main, these quakes are related to the immense amount of hydrothermal activity that goes on in the caldera. However, all that said, it should also be noted that the entire caldera is experencing 'uplift' or inflation which may indicate the injection of magma into the enormous magma chamber beneath the caldera.

    question amied at shetland.

    if a major erupiton where to occur could it have a globel affect on the climate and would if it where on a very large scale would it affect the weather in the uk?

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
    question amied at shetland.

    if a major erupiton where to occur could it have a globel affect on the climate and would if it where on a very large scale would it affect the weather in the uk?

    St Helens type doubtful you'd notice very much. Super Eruption forgot about Global warming in fact forget about anything to be honest. The effects here would be slow to start off and then would be catastrophic.

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    Guest Shetland Coastie
    question amied at shetland.

    if a major erupiton where to occur could it have a globel affect on the climate and would if it where on a very large scale would it affect the weather in the uk?

    If it were an eruption on say Mt.St Helens/Pinatubo scale then the effects globally would be limited. Perhaps a drop of global temps of 0.5C for maybe a year or less. This would mean a colder winter but would probably be a one-off before global temps recovered.

    If it were a super-eruption of the type portrayed in the docu-drama "supervolcano", then as Pit rightly points out, it would be a global catastrophe, plunging the planet into a "volcanic winter" which would lead to crop failure and mass starvation. Our most recent experience of such an eruption would have been Toba in Indonesia approx 70,000 years ago which, many scientists believe, was responsible for almost wiping out the human race and is why our ancestry can be traced back on the mitchondrial line to just a few ancestors, suggesting an evolutionary bottleneck.

    I would like to stress, however, that there is currently no suggestion that this will happen in the near to medium future. Whilst another supereruption either at Yellowstone, or elsewhere, is likely a t some point in the future, the most likely scenario for Yellowstone at the moment is something along the lines of St.Helens/Pinatubo.

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    Posted
  • Location: Coventry,Warwickshire
  • Location: Coventry,Warwickshire

    Equake swarms are quite common for yellowstone and the upward deformation does not look to have increased significantly, and the observers seemed relatively happy during the week. Normal seismic activity looks a bit like the following.

    Then on boxing day we start to see the earthquake swarm develop. These I believe are the signature of rocks breaking underground. Larva movement signatures I think have a different shape (longer)

    Here is today and yesterdays from the same site at Yellowstone.

    The increased low level noise looks to be part of the swarm as well. Here I am not sure whether this just a weather system moving overhead. This is probably best interepreted by the experst who don't seem worried at the moment.

    Guide to Seismic Monitoring

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    Posted
  • Location: Bethnal Green
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and Cold
  • Location: Bethnal Green

    The latest activity here does seem to be more unusual than what is expect from earthquake swarms experienced in the past. A quick look at the recent quakes in the area of the lake shows they are located at depths from around 6.5km to the surface suggesting rock breaking throughout.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recent...15.-105_eqs.php

    The recent activity on the seismic traces near the lake seems to show some sort of background tremor. AFAIK this would suggest the movement of magma near to, but not necessarily towards, the surface.

    post-4189-1230914259_thumb.png post-4189-1230914285_thumb.png post-4189-1230914290_thumb.png post-4189-1230914295_thumb.png

    The seismic traces located further from the lake don't show this behaviour; here's the trace for Old Faithful which I think is about 30 miles from the earthquakes.

    post-4189-1230914441_thumb.png

    I'm no expert but on the basis of that evidence it would suggest rocks breaking allowing magma to rise to the surface; presumably some sort of eruption would be expected if this were to continue, but I think that's a big if.

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    Guest Shetland Coastie

    Below is the latest summary of the recent quake swarm from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO):

    Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL

    Aviation Color Code: GREEN

    December 2008 Yellowstone Earthquake And Ground Deformation Summary

    Earthquake Summary:

    Yellowstone seismicity increased significantly in December 2008 due to an energetic earthquake swarm that commenced on December 26. This swarm, a sequence of earthquakes clustered in space and time, is occurring beneath the northern part of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. As of this writing, the largest of these earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 at 10:15 pm MST on Dec. 27. Through 5:00 pm MST on Dec. 31, the sequence had included 12 events of magnitude 3.0 to 3.9 and approximately 20 of magnitude 2.5 to 2.9, with a total of at least 400 events large enough to be located (magnitude ~1 or larger). National Park Service (NPS) employees and visitors have reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes in the area around Yellowstone Lake and at Old Faithful and Grant Village.

    The hypocenters of the swarm events cluster along a north-south-trending zone that is about 7 km long. The vast majority of the focal depths are shallower than 5 km. It is not possible to identify a causative fault of other feature without further analysis.

    Analysts are currently processing the backlog of seismic data from these events. The current analyst-processed catalog is believed to include all events of magnitude 2.5 and greater through Dec 31 at 5 pm MST, but hundreds of earthquakes remain to be processed. The total of more than 400 locatable events is based on automatically-determined locations and magnitudes for the swarm events.

    The December 2008 earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years. No damage has been reported within Yellowstone National Park, nor would any be expected from earthquakes of this size. The swarm is in a region of historical earthquake activity and is close to areas of Yellowstone famous hydrothermal activity. Similar earthquake swarms have occurred in the past in Yellowstone without triggering steam explosions or volcanic activity. Nevertheless, there is some potential for hydrothermal explosions and earthquakes may continue or increase in magnitude. There is a much lower potential for related volcanic activity.

    The National Park Service in Yellowstone has been kept fully informed of the ongoing seismic activity via electronic means and by phone contacts with the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey USGS). The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is reviewing Earthquake Response Plans and monitoring seismic activity.

    Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Yellowstone National Park area, an active volcanic-tectonic area averaging 1,000 to 2,000 earthquakes a year. Yellowstone's 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of this geologic activity

    And an interview with the scientist in charge at YVO, Dr. Jacob Lowenstern of USGS:

    Lowenstern interview

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    Posted
  • Location: Bethnal Green
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and Cold
  • Location: Bethnal Green

    There's been a rash of quakes in the last few hours with 3 having a magnitude greater than 3 in addition to the 2 earlier today. The tremor seems to have intensified as well.

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
    There's been a rash of quakes in the last few hours with 3 having a magnitude greater than 3 in addition to the 2 earlier today. The tremor seems to have intensified as well.

    Yup it does seem to be twitching a bit doesn't it. If it goes bang I'll go and buy that huge car I promised myself. No one will collect the debt anyway.

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    Posted
  • Location: Larbert
  • Location: Larbert

    Please don't let this become another mind-boggling, gloom ridden, end of the world thread..there's enough on within the model discussion area, let alone the warming lobby over on the Climate threads.

    Besides, it's reckoned the last blow from Yellowstone is 30,000 years late in arriving :)

    :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Bethnal Green
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and Cold
  • Location: Bethnal Green

    After the spasm last night activity has dropped back to what appears to be normal levels.

    post-4189-1230977036_thumb.png post-4189-1230977047_thumb.png

    It looks like the end of the swarm for now; it'll be interesting to see if it comes back in the next few days, weeks, months, years....

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    Guest Shetland Coastie

    Latest info from YVO dated today:

    YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (CAVW#1205-01-)

    44.43°N 110.67°W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)

    Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL

    Aviation Color Code: GREEN

    Earthquake swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake continues.

    PRESS RELEASE FROM YVO PARTNER UNIVERSITY OF UTAH SEISMOGRAPH STATIONS

    Released: December 29, 2008 05:00 PM MST

    The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a notable swarm of earthquakes has been underway since December 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, three to six miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. This energetic sequence of events was most intense on December 27, when the largest number of events of magnitude 3 and larger occurred.

    The largest of the earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 (revised from magnitude 3.8-) 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. A total of more than 250 events large enough to be located have occurred in this swarm. Reliable depths of the larger events are up to a few miles. Visitors and National Park Service (NPS) employees in the Yellowstone Lake area reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes.

    Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Yellowstone National Park area, an active volcanic-tectonic area averaging 1,000 to 2,000 earthquakes a year. Yellowstone's 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of this geologic activity. A summary of Yellowstone's volcanic history is available on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site (listed below). 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. Scientists cannot identify any causative fault or other feature without further analysis. Seismologists continue to monitor and analyze the data and will issue new information if the situation warrants it.

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    Posted
  • Location: Bethnal Green
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and Cold
  • Location: Bethnal Green

    This is today's/yesterday's:

    YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY INFORMATION RELEASE

    Friday, January 2, 2009 19:30 MST (Saturday, January 3, 2009 02:30 UTC)

    YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (CAVW#1205-01-)

    44.43°N 110.67°W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)

    Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL

    Aviation Color Code: GREEN

    Yellowstone Lake Earthquake Swarm Update: 2 January 2008

    The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that as of 1800 MST on 2 January 2009, seismicity of the ongoing Yellowstone earthquake swarm continues. Over 500 earthquakes, as large as M 3.9, have been recorded by an automated earthquake system since the inception of this unusual earthquake sequence that began Dec. 27, 2008. More than 300 of these events have been reviewed and evaluated by seismic analysts. Depths of the earthquakes range from ~ 1km to around 10 km. We note that the earthquakes extend northward from central Yellowstone Lake for ~10 km toward the Fishing Bridge area, with a migration of recent earthquakes toward the north. Some of the dozen M3+ earthquakes were felt in the Lake, Grant Village and Old Faithful areas. Personnel of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory continue to evaluate this earthquake sequence and will provide information to the NPS, USGS and the public as it evolves.

    This earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years. No damage has been reported within Yellowstone National Park, nor would any be expected from earthquakes of this size. The swarm is in a region of historical earthquake activity and is close to areas of Yellowstone famous hydrothermal activity. Similar earthquake swarms have occurred in the past in Yellowstone without triggering steam explosions or volcanic activity. Nevertheless, there is some potential for hydrothermal explosions and earthquakes may continue or increase in magnitude. There is a much lower potential for related volcanic activity.

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