Yellowstone Seismic Swarms – What Do They Mean?

“640,000 years ago it's estimated that 240 cubic miles blasted
out of the Yellowstone caldera ...enough material to bury the state of Texas beneath about 5 feet of debris”

- Jacob Lowenstern, Ph.D., USGS Geologist

 

On January 17, 2010,  a swarm of earthquakes started up in the Yellowstone National Park on the northwestern part of the Yellowstone caldera (red dots on map). By February 8, 2010, there had been about 1,800 earthquakes – most of them too small to be felt, but some were larger and people felt them around the Old Faithful geyser. Map by Univ. of Utah Seismology Research Group.
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. The geyser erupts with a frequency that can range between 45 to 125 minutes, for 1.5 to 5 minutes and can erupt as high as 106 to 185 feet. Image by USGS.
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. The geyser erupts with a frequency that can range between 45 to 125 minutes, for 1.5 to 5 minutes and can erupt as high as 106 to 185 feet. Image by USGS.
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. The geyser erupts with a frequency that can range between 45 to 125 minutes, for 1.5 to 5 minutes and can erupt as high as 106 to 185 feet. Image by USGS.

February 25, 2010  Menlo Park, California -  At 1 PM on January 17, 2010, a swarm of small earthquakes began shaking the ground around Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Over the next three weeks until February 8, 2010, there would be nearly 2,000 quakes on the northwestern edge of the Yellowstone Caldera that was created 645,000 years ago when there was a gigantic magma explosion that blasted 240 cubic miles into the atmosphere, enough material to bury the state of Texas beneath 5 feet of ash and debris.

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