Yellowstone volcano is swarming with earthquake tremors as almost 100 seismic incidents happen within a single day.
What will happen if Yellowstone erupts? It’s a common question for Americans. It is an even more pressing concern for those who live close to Yellowstone National Park. While experts still believe “2020 is not the year” – concerns are mounting for locals. As an “earthquake swarm” rocks Utah, residents wonder: what’s next?
The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory’s (YVO) statement, however, doesn’t do much to clarify. “Seismologists will have their hands full analyzing all of these exciting data this fall and winter,” the YVO states with little further detail.
Yellowstone Volcano: What is an Earthquake Swarm?
Scientifically, earthquake swarms are “series of minor seismic events located in the same area at the same time.”
According to Newsweek, “they may not be [from] a specific fault or initial, larger earthquake. They occur regularly in Yellowstone National Park, accounting for around half of all seismic activity in the region.”
The September swarm was a natural occurrence, not stirred by manmade activity. University of Utah tracks seismic activity in the park, and the earthquakes measure from -0.1 to 2.8 on the Richter scale. While the September swarm is a large one, it is far from the largest to ever rock the area. In fact, it is only the largest one from the past few months.
Michael Poland, lead scientist for YVO, speaks to the famously volatile nature of Yellowstone. “The Yellowstone region is extensively faulted due to it’s tectonic setting on the eastern boundary of the Basin and Range extensional province, so it’s a very tectonically active area,” he says in an email regarding the swarm. “All of that water in the subsurface, and overall weakening due to the heat supplied by the magmatic system, heightens that activity.”
Poland also attributes the acute accuracy of these recordings to the installing of advanced equipment just this year. He expects many more “swarms” to pop up in the future. And like the rest of us, he too is hoping the Yellowstone Volcano eruption is a long, long ways off.