PLANETARY TREMORS & GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Volcanic Awakening – 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Yellowstone National Park; Most Powerful Tremor To Hit The Area Since 1980; Four Aftershocks Recorded!

March 30, 2014 – YELLOWSTONE, UNITED STATES – A 4.8 magnitude quake rocked Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming near the border with Montana, the US Geological Survey said. There were several aftershocks with a magnitude over 3.

USGS earthquake location map.

The earthquake occurred 37 kilometers northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana at 6:34 am local time (1234 GMT) Sunday.

The quake was centered almost in the middle of Yellowstone National Park, near the Norris Geyser Basin, said Peter Cervelli, a spokesman for the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, NBC News reported.

He added that any damage from the temblor would likely be minor, noting there are not many visitors in the park at the moment.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

The Yellowstone River Lower Falls is seen at sunrise in Yellowstone National Park. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

According to USGS there were four aftershocks recorded with a magnitude from 3.1 to 3.3. The USGS said that more are expected.

The secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures, the USGS said.

Cervalli stated that the quake is not expected to trigger any volcanic activity.

Yellowstone National park, North America’s largest volcanic field, is the home to a caldera, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Due to the volcanic and tectonic nature of the region, the caldera experiences 1 to 20 earthquakes every day, according to Yellowstone observatory. However they are very weak often measuring much less than magnitude 3.

The quake on Sunday was the most powerful to hit the park since 1985. In the fall of 1985 in the northwest rim of the caldera during a three-month period of increased earthquake activity over 3000 events of magnitude 0 to 4.9 were recorded by seismologists.

Geologists are closely monitoring the rise of the Yellowstone Plateau. The upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor between 2004 and 2008 was almost 3 inches (about 7 cm) each year, according to a University of Utah scientists report in the journal Science in November 2008. That was more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923.

“Our best evidence is that the crustal magma chamber is filling with molten rock,” said seismologist Robert B. Smith, lead author of the study and professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

“But we have no idea how long this process goes on before there either is an eruption or the inflow of molten rock stops and the caldera deflates again,” he added. – RT.

USGS Additional Commentary
USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY INFORMATION STATEMENT
Sunday, March 30, 2014 10:31 AM (Sunday, March 30, 2014 16:31 UTC)

YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (VNUM #325010)
44°25’48” N 110°40’12” W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)

Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL

Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

The University of Utah, a YVO member agency, sent out the following press release about a magnitude 4.8 earthquake that occurred this morning at 6:34 AM MDT.

PRESS RELEASE
University of Utah Seismograph Stations
Released: March 30, 2014 08:15 AM MDT

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a light earthquake occurred at 06:34 AM on March 30, 2014 (MDT). The epicenter of the magnitude 4.8 shock was located 4 miles north-northeast of Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. This earthquake is part of a series of earthquakes that began in this area on Thursday, March 27. As of 8:15 am today, this series has included at least 25 earthquakes in addition to the main shock, with the largest of magnitude 3.1. The magnitude 4.8 main shock was reported felt in Yellowstone National Park and in the towns of West
Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana.

Anyone who felt the earthquake is encouraged to fill out a survey form on either the Seismograph stations web site: www.quake.utah.edu or the U.S. Geological Survey web site: earthquake.usgs.gov.

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Today’s event is the largest earthquake at Yellowstone since February 22, 1980, and occurred near the center of a region of recent ground uplift described in a YVO Information Statement on February 18, 2014. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory has been tracking this uplift episode for about 7 months.

As discussed in the March 3, 2014 YVO Monthly Update, seismicity in the general region of the uplift has been elevated for several months. A previous period of uplift in this area occurred between 1996 and 2003, and it was also accompanied by elevated seismicity.

A USGS field team is in Yellowstone and will visit the area near the earthquake’s epicenter today. The team will look for any surface changes that the earthquake may have caused, and for possible effects to the hydrothermal system at Norris Geyser Basin.

Based on the style and location of today’s earthquake, at this time YVO sees no indication of additional geologic activity other than continuing seismicity.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey. – USGS.

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