Yellowstone Earthquakes Return

Just as unexpectedly as when the last swarm started, and just as unexpectedly as when the last swarm stopped, there is a new swarm. Verifying my initial statement: At least at some levels, the experts don’t have much of a clue about these things. Not their fault. It’s just that there is not that much data and there has not been enough study.

After a few days of relative quiet, a new earthquake storm has started up in Yellowstone Natioal Park.

According to the Island Park News:

A modest swarm of earthquakes began in the northeast corner of the Yellowstone Caldera Friday, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory reports today.
The quakes are about 10 miles (16 km) NNE of the north end of the Yellowstone Lake swarm that was active in late December and early January. As of 7:30 p.m. MST, 10 earthquakes were noted by the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. The largest was magnitude 3.3 and two other events were greater than 2.0. Depths are between 2 and 4 km.

Also noted is the possibility that Earthquakes may change Yellowstone Caldera

Scientists will analyze this data for months to come. They’re already saying the swarm may have created changes in the 37- by 25-mile Yellowstone Caldera in the center of the park, and its associated thermal features. The caldera has a magma plume that extends around 400 miles under the Earth. The caldera’s last large eruption was 640,000 years ago.
The swarm’s tremors have ranged in depth from less than a mile to almost 6 miles.

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0 thoughts on “Yellowstone Earthquakes Return

  1. Last week was a bit of a let-down, after all the tension. Looks like there won’t be a supervolcano. Maybe just a big geyser in the lake if we’re lucky.

    I do notice that a town on the lake is called ‘West Thumb’. Which makes me wonder what happened to ‘East Thumb’.

  2. “The largest was magnitude 3.3 and two other events were greater than 2.0”

    So, three EQs <3.5 is an "earthquake storm"?

    I know very little about Yellowstone historical seismicity, but does anyone know of a good reference showing these swarms over the past few decades?

  3. Eddie, “West Thumb” is specifically the name of that part of Yellowstone Lake that projects to the west away from the main body of the lake. (You should look at a map of the park now.)

    Because this part of the lake, somewhat like a large, protected bay, has a shape that is somewhat like an extended thumb and because it is in fact the westernmost part of the lake, it has been long called the West Thumb. That there is no East Thumb is no problem. The name West Thumb immediately alerts anyone interested that that part of the lake is like a thumb and that it is on the west side of the lake.

    Accordingly, any major activity, buildings, attractions and so forth that are within spitting distance of this feature of the lake are automatically included under the descriptive and informative appellation West Thumb.

    Quite sensible, I’d say. Not that some alteration to the caldera couldn’t create an East Thumb in the future . . .

  4. Strange animal behavior – Yellowstone area
    I read a post on Above Top Secret forum, dated Jan 3,2009 … The person states that they live 300 miles south of Yellowstone, in rockies, approx 8,000 ft elevation. The daughter saw a robin on Dec 30. The local newspaper had article about 180 robins sighted downtown. It is not normal for robins to be there this time of year. Also rocks in their yard are beginning to show, even though there is plenty of snow on the roof, and it is not warm enough for snow melt, been in bitter 20’s for weeks. A black bear out and about 2 days ago. USGS is ‘monitoring’ the Yampa River for unknown reasons. The Elk River, which was frozen, is now not, even with temps in the 20’s for weeks. That person’s opinion was that robins show when the ground warms, as does snow melt, bears come out, and ice melts. The person also said snow levels in local mountains are odd, areas close to each other have different snow levels, but were hit with the same storm. It seems some parts of the Mt range is warmer than other parts, yet right next to each other. These thing are not normal for the area.

  5. Take a look at the USGS water outflow data for the Yellowstone River at Yellowstone Lake for the past 60 days. The charts compare current outflow to data over past 79 years.

    There is more water coming out of Yellowstone Lake than there should be for this time of year. Some people on the internet have been saying it coincides with the tremors during the Yellowstone Lake swarm. Is the the magma bulge under the Yellowstone Lake growing bigger, and tipping the water out at a faster rate?

  6. Robins shouldn’t be up in that area for another couple of months, traditionally. However, robin migration and breeding has been substantially screwed up by climate changes. “Lake effect” snows have kept their traditional breeding grounds covered in snow when they usually breed and take care of the little ones, hiding their food supplies. So, Robins have changed their habits. We now have robins living year-round in Dallas, when they were only migrating visitors prior to about 1989.

    Robins in the area is probably a result of climate change, not geology change.

    Brian R: Check the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory for historic records:

    And, isn’t Above Top Secret sort of a crank science site?

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