Swarm of Earthquakes in Yellowstone Renews Fears of Supervolcano Eruption

Volcanoes are magnificent and amazing in nature making us always wonder of the immense strength that our planet has. Nowadays most of the volcanoes are not active, but we cannot ever mess with Nature as there is no guarantee when they will reactivate again.

These days we are fighting the novel virus and there has not been a country in the world affected by it. It has reminded us how Nature can be unpredictable and how little we are compared to its magnificence.

Nature has been reviving during these difficult times thanks to the enforced lockdowns. It has become active and mighty, shaking the land, especially the area around Yellowstone National Park.

The US Geological Survey monitors closely the seismical activities in the park, especially after a swarm of earthquakes. This has renewed the concern over the possible activity of the underground volcano, but this institution claims that the chances for this are very low. The chances for a Yellowstone super volcano eruption this year are one in 730,000. So, this statistics should set us at peace considering the fact that a super volcano eruption would release the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

There have been recently many earthquakes in Montana, the area of West Yellowstone. The reports showed a total of 34 low-magnitude earthquakes, extending three miles underground. Fortunately, all of them were weak ones and the strongest one measured a magnitude of 3.1.

The Yellowstone National Park’s website states:

“Yellowstone is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States…. Approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year in the Yellowstone area; most are not felt. They result from the extensive network of faults associated with the volcano and surrounding tectonic features.”

The Yellowstone National Park sits atop of a super volcano and in the states there are in total three. The scientific estimation is that the Yellowstone volcano is around 34 by 45 miles wide and only three miles below the surface. It has three overlapping calderas that are in fact previous eruptions from hundreds of thousands years ago or even millions.

When the Mount St. Helens erupted there had been 2,000 times the amount of ash which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces. According to the park official the swarms of earthquakes are common in this area, and the earthquakes result from volcanic fluids entering shallow rock fractures.

The website adds:

“Yellowstone commonly experiences “earthquake swarms”—a series of earthquakes over a short period in a localized area. The largest swarm occurred in 1985, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded during three months on the northwest side of the park.

Hundreds of quakes were recorded during swarms in 2009 near Lake Village and 2010 between Old Faithful area and West Yellowstone. Scientists posit these swarms are due to shifting and changing pressures in the Earth’s crust that are caused by migration of hydrothermal fluids, a natural occurrence of volcanoes.”

We would not like to be a witness of a super volcano, as if that happens the Earth will not be the same as before. This was explained in a BBC feature: “The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.”

But, there is no need for panic, even if Yellowstone was edging closer to exploding, it is still thousands of years away.

However, volcanists are warning the visitors of the park, especially if there are more earthquakes of higher magnitude and hydrothermal blasts coming. The beauty of the park is overwhelming and we are not saying not to visit it, just be very cautious as in the past years over 300 people have lost their lives in accidents, such as driving off of 800-foot cliffs, succumbing to the fumes emitted by hydrothermal vents, and diving into 200-degree boiling water. Nature should never be underestimated, it is magical and beautiful, but at the same time very dangerous.