Scientists Pay Close Attention To Yellowstone Earthquakes
Yellowstone National Park experienced a small earthquake for the third straight day in a row. Scientists are watching closely to see whether the 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. These swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone but it is highly unusual for so many to happen over several days.
“They’re certainly not normal. We haven’t had earthquakes in this energy, or extent, in many years,” Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah, said.
Smith directs the Yellowstone Seismic Network. He has said that these earthquakes have ranged in strength from barely detachable to one of the magnitude of 3.8. The 3.8 earthquake happened Saturday. Smith says a earthquake with the magnitude of 4 could cause moderate damage.
“This is an active volcanic and tectonic area, and these are the kinds of things we have to pay attention to. We might be seeing something precursory,” Smith said, “Could it develop into a bigger fault or hydrothermal activity? We don’t know. That’s what we’re there to do, to monitor it for public safety.”
On Monday the strongest of tremors was a magnitude of 3.3 shortly after noon. All of these quakes have been centered beneath the Northwest end of Yellowstone Lake. Recently a Park Ranger based at the North end of the lake reported feeling nine quakes over a 24-hour time period this weekend. No damage was reported.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything to be alarmed about,” Stacy Vallie, the park spokesperson, said.
Smith has said it’s difficult to find out what has been causing these tremors. Smith has pointed out that Yellowstone is the caldera of a volcano that erupted 70,000 years ago. He has said that Yellowstone remains very geologically active. Its famous geysers and hot springs are a reminder that a pool of magma exists five to ten miles underground.