Yellowstone volcano: 105 earthquakes rock supervolcano amid fears it’s overdue an eruption

Yellowstone Volcano: Super eruptions 'are very rare' says expert

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Earthquake trackers located around the Yellowstone volcano and national park area have had a busy time in March. A total of 105 earthquakes rocked the Yellowstone region last month, including three “major water eruptions” of the world-famous Steamboat Geyser. Although the activity is within the norms of Yellowstone’s monthly output, many people live in fear the US supervolcano is overdue for another major eruption.

Yellowstone’s three biggest volcanic blasts went off about 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago, leading some people to think the volcano erupts like clockwork.

Although the fears are unfounded, social media is rife with claims Yellowstone is a ticking time bomb waiting to take the world by surprise.

The past three eruptions are estimated to have blanketed much of the western half of North America in ash and volcanic debris.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the eruptions deposited material “a third of a meter deep several hundred kilometres” from the volcano, and centimetres thick even farther out.

Will this happen again any time soon? That is very unlikely but people are still needlessly worried about Yellowstone.

One Twitter user said: “I’ve decided to live my life with the knowledge that we’re 30,000 years overdue for the Yellowstone volcano eruption so I might as well have fun.”

Another person said: “Currently thinking about how the Yellowstone volcano is overdue for an eruption and when it does erupt it’ll destroy the entire continental US.”

And a third person said: “At any moment the Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt and we’d all die.”

But if the USGS does not believe the US supervolcano is overdue for another blast, why have there been so many earthquakes in the region last month?

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The US supervolcano experiences anywhere up to 3,000 earthquakes each year, many of which hit in the form of earthquake swarms.

March 2021 has been a fairly busy month with 105 tremors, of which 12 hit in a swarm between March 9 and 16.

The USGS said: “The largest event was a minor earthquake of magnitude 2.4 located 16 miles southeast of Mammoth, WY, on March 3 at 2.31pm MST.

“A small swarm of 12 earthquakes, with magnitudes between -0.1 and 1.8, was recorded in the area of Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, during March 9 to 16.

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“The largest event of the swarm occurred on March 9 at 2.29pm (MST) and was located nine miles north-northwest of Old Faithful.”

Earthquake swarms typically account for about 50 percent of all seismic activity in Yellowstone.

Within this time period, Steamboat Geyser erupted on March 3, 18, and 27, bringing this year’s number of eruptions up to seven.

Steamboat Geyser is a fan-favourite staple of the US national park and is the world’s tallest active geyser.

The USGS said: “During winter months, the interval between Steamboat eruptions is longer than during the summer, probably due to lower groundwater levels in the absence of runoff from snow melt.

“If the geyser follows the patterns established since 2018, we expect to see the time between eruptions decrease as summer approaches.”

Yellowstone volcano is not overdue for another eruption and USGS geologists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) do not expect it to blow again within our lifetime.

If the volcano does erupt, chances are it will not be a big volcanic eruption, but rather, a hydrothermal one.

The scientists said: “YVO has not detected signs of activity that suggest an eruption is imminent.”

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