Busy busy today with the first day of spring semester classes, but …

Yellowstone is having a nice little earthquake swarm, eh? Likely it is nothing beyond fluid flow as the earthquake are shallow, but hey, it is still fun to see.


  1. #1 SHIRAKAWA Akira
    January 18, 2010

    I wonder why, even though a University of Utah geophysicist confirmed that more than 250 earthquakes have already occurred, they’re not adding them to the official list where only those bigger than 2.5 magnitude (the 2.4 one was downgraded from M2.5, the M0.8 one has replaced a M3.0+ one they initially mistook for M3.7… they will definitely need to correct this one) seem to appear.

    I’m not implying that they’re hiding something, but it doesn’t seem a very transparent process compared to last year’s Lake swarm, when they seemed to process earthquakes much faster and clearer.

    By looking at the YMR station webicorder it’s clear that this is the largest swarm since January 2009.

  2. #2 Diane
    January 18, 2010

    Yes, I have been watching this. It is fun to see it going and I hope it doesn’t turn into anything major. Not likely, though.

    What?! No day off? ūüôā

  3. #3 mots137
    January 19, 2010

    The only thing i hear about Yellowstone is that there is only a very remote chance of anything approching it’s past eruptions happening again. You say the eq’s are shallow and are probably only hot water moving around. How deep would an a pre-eruptive earthquake be? And i remember a swarm last year in the winter at Yellowstone. i was making caramel popcorn and wandering between the stove and the computer…….. anyway i was going to make some more tomorrow and it’s kinda cool that another swarm is in the works.

  4. #4 George
    January 19, 2010

    Most of the larger ones (>2.5 mag) are some 10km deep. That doesn’t seem so shallow to me but maybe that is relative to something else of which I am unaware such as historical activity or something.

  5. #5 EKoh
    January 19, 2010

    Just a little noise.
    If Yellowstone ever did anything big, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything else!

  6. #6 Akira Shirakawa
    January 19, 2010

    About this earthquake swarm, yesterday I made a video of seismic waveforms from two monitoring stations converted into audio waveforms. It covers the first 28 hours of activity condensed in 7 minutes (that’s a 240x speed up). You can hear (but also see) that activity is much more than only those reported earthquakes:

    Since that, a few more >M2.5 earthquakes (plus a vast number of still unreported smaller ones) have occurred.

  7. #7 bruce stout
    January 19, 2010

    Shirakawasan (I hope I am not being too polite!!) – that is just about the coolest thing I have seen in this field since the photo of Sarychev. If you listen carefully, there is a long-wave undertone as well going on fairly constantly. Amazing.

  8. #8 Akira Shirakawa
    January 19, 2010

    Thanks for your comment Bruce – about the constant long wave undertone, I think you’re probably talking about background electronic noise. Both stations I used to make this video had a certain amount of it, and I didn’t attempt to remove it in order to preserve audio/waveform integrity.

    In the video you can also hear sporadic low frequency double percussive sounds: those usually are teleseisms (distant strong earthquakes) not related to Yellowstone. Modern seismic instrumentation is sensitive enough to pick up signals from strong earthquakes (M5.5-6.0 and up) occurring anywhere in the world.

  9. #9 bruce stout
    January 19, 2010

    I thought that might be the case with the distant booms, (there’s a good one at 5 min). As for the noise I heard (particularly evident around 3:10 to 3:30) I was wondering if there is a long-wave signal from moving fluids coming through as opposed to the sharp crack of breaking/shifting rocks.

  10. #10 Akira Shirakawa
    January 19, 2010

    From 3:10 to 3:30 – the broad, not too regular shaped (and sounding) low frequency noise – and other similar signals, I believe it’s the effect of wind, from which many seismic stations in Yellowstone seem to be easily affected.

    As for the relatively brief gurgling sounds of low frequencies that can be sometimes heard (like at 2:35), though, I admit I don’t know, but they could be fluid movement signals like you suggested.
    Sometimes (depending on the location, hour, etc) you can “hear” cars/trucks (at accelerated frequencies they sound like small ascending/descending whistle-like tones) signals from some Yellowstone seismic stations but these ones seem to be a different thing. Unfortunately I can’t confirm anything about these.

  11. #11 Akira Shirakawa
    January 19, 2010

    A University of Utah geophysicist yesterday confirmed that over 250 earthquakes ranging from magnitude 0.5 to 3.1 have already occurred during this swarm.

    I wonder why they’re listing only those greater than M2.5 in their official Yellowstone earthquake list, though (there’s a M2.4 which was downgraded from M2.5, and a M0.8 which was put there in order to correct the wrongly reported M3.7 – this one should be around M3.0, but still hasn’t been corrected). There are seismologists manually reviewing new earthquakes, so I don’t understand why they’re not reviewing the not automatically added smaller ones too.

    Recent earthquake list for Yellowstone from the University of Utah website:

  12. #12 Candy
    January 19, 2010

    Akira…Thank you for sharing your recording on Youtube. I am so glad to find more info on your work here. I “watched” the 2008/09 Yellowstone swarm with interest and noticed on Sunday that another swarm had started. Again I am “watching” with interest. I am interested in earthquakes and I am a musician. Looking at the seismographs the other day I noted how much the EQ display looks like the digital signal in my recording software….and then voila! Your work appeared on Youtube. Thank you. As I searched for more info on Youtube I noticed an animation that seems to show a North to West movement of the current swarm of quakes…now I am wondering if the two could be combined? Again thank you so much for posting your work to Youtube. I found it very interesting.

  13. #13 Katherine
    January 19, 2010

    It’s feeling jealous because of the Yogi Bear film that’s being filmed now.

  14. #14 SHIRAKAWA Akira
    January 19, 2010

    Candy: Thanks for your comment.

    At the moment I can’t make any proper earthquake location animations because the University of Utah is currently being a bit slow in reviewing and cataloging them. More than 400 earthquakes as of today have supposedly occurred, but only 60 or so have been added in their “recent earthquake list”.

    I’ll try to make more complete videos in the following days, but I’ll have to make compromises between playing speed (a too long video would be boring, also I can’t break the Youtube 10 minutes limit) and audibility (at high playing speeds you don’t really catch all the subtle differences between earthquakes, they more or less annoyingly sound the same).

  15. #15 elkabong
    January 20, 2010

    Are you guys kidding me? This is BAD NEWS. The cycle is getting worse every year at the same time. Here is the BAD NEWS. The volcano is going to erupt in the 4th qtr of 2010. This is from the World Geophysical Organization. Its part of all the plate movement beginning in 2010. California, Ohio, Memphis and Yellowstone. Welcome to the future. Haiti is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2 weeks, we have seen 3 earthquakes, California, Haitie, New Mexico, and now Yellowstone.

  16. #16 Diane
    January 20, 2010


    Can you cite the article from the World Geophysical Organization that is saying this? I think people make predictions all the time and they don’t happen. I am not saying there will not be major quakes or eruptions. I am saying I am not so sure they will be in the proportions this article you are citing is indicating. As for California, there have been large quakes here many times. And right now there are over 900 on the map for the last week. Plates shift. And in 1976 during the Guatemalan quake, the Carribean Plate moved eastward and left a furrow all across Guatemala. And there are a lot more large quakes in the western Pacific. And a 3.8 in New Mexico isn’t much to worry about.

    As for the 6.5 quake in CA, I believe that one was at the southern end of the San Juan De Fucca plate. That has nothing to do with Haiti. Totally different plate system.

    Anyway, if you can supply this article you are citing from, send it along.

  17. #17 Erik Klemetti
    January 20, 2010

    Sorry to disappoint folks, but there is no “World Geophysical Organization” and even if there was, they would be pretty dubious if they were in the business to make predictions like that. No worries, the swarm at Yellowstone is pretty standard stuff.

  18. #18 Diane
    January 21, 2010

    Thanks, Erik. I have heard all kinds of crazy predictions and when it comes down to it, nobody knows when the next volcano or quake will happen. We do have some idea on volcanoes, but they can blow with no warning as we know. Just remember the one that came up in the corn field in Mexico.

  19. #19 stock broker
    December 10, 2010

    What is the purpose of this post if you don’t mind me asking?

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