I just wanted to point folks to an interview in US News & World Report with the USGS scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Dr. Jacob Lowenstern. He plays down the swarm, noting that things like this happened in the 1980s and that Yellowstone has seen over 80 eruptions in the caldera since the last “supervolcano” eruption 640,000 years ago. I know Dr. Lowenstern pretty well, and even at AGU when I talked to him (before the swarm), he seemed to play down the huffing and puffing the caldera experiences on a yearly basis. It would take much more activity to get the YVO folks concerned about a potential new eruptive period.


  1. #1 David
    January 3, 2009

    Yellowstone Lake Earthquake Swarm Update: 2 January 2008

    The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that as of 1800 MST on 2 January 2009, seismicity of the ongoing Yellowstone earthquake swarm continues. Over 500 earthquakes, as large as M 3.9, have been recorded by an automated earthquake system since the inception of this unusual earthquake sequence that began Dec. 27, 2008. More than 300 of these events have been reviewed and evaluated by seismic analysts. Depths of the earthquakes range from ~ 1km to around 10 k</strong>m. We note that the earthquakes extend northward from central Yellowstone Lake for ~10 km toward the Fishing Bridge area, with a migration of recent earthquakes toward the north. Some of the dozen M3+ earthquakes were felt in the Lake, Grant Village and Old Faithful areas. Personnel of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory continue to evaluate this earthquake sequence and will provide information to the NPS, USGS and the public as it evolves.

    This earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years. No damage has been reported within Yellowstone National Park, nor would any be expected from earthquakes of this size. The swarm is in a region of historical earthquake activity and is close to areas of Yellowstone famous hydrothermal activity. Similar earthquake swarms have occurred in the past in Yellowstone without triggering steam explosions or volcanic activity. Nevertheless, there is some potential for hydrothermal explosions and earthquakes may continue or increase in magnitude. There is a much lower potential for related volcanic activity.

  2. #2 David
    January 3, 2009

    some in tells me that Yellowstone is a sleeping time bom that is waiting to make it move with little to no Warning we could see a explosions at any time with in the next few weeks that potential is vary high

  3. #3 volcanophile
    January 3, 2009

    The odds of a really big supervolcanic eruption seem pretty remote…There is no reason for the caldera to blow up, at least in a statistical way. The last “big one” happened at least 600,000 years ago, and the volcano has erupted a lot of times since without blowing its top.

    The problem is with the media, who always prefer talking about catastrophic, terrifying potential events, because it makes them sell more and it attracts attention…

    What is far more likely to happen is a strombolian eruption, with a growing cnder cone and lava flows.

    That would be a fascinating event by itself…. nice photos to come on the Eruptions blog!

  4. #4 Lee
    January 4, 2009

    I think they should drain the lake and see if there is any lava there.

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