Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm Grows to 878 Events in Two Weeks
Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm Grows to 878 Events in Two Weeks

Geologists have recorded 878 earthquakes, as of June 26, at the Yellowstone supervolcano in the past two weeks—approaching double the number of quakes reported a little over a week before.

Though the swarm is the largest in five years, scientists with the United States Geological Survey say that there is almost no risk of the supervolcano erupting and that risks to planes traveling overhead are also minimal.

The current swarm of earthquakes began on June 12 on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park. By June 19, the number of quakes reached the highest in five years at 464 total events, USGS reported.

The breakdown of the magnitude of the 878 quakes in the latest update is as follows:

  • 1 earthquake in the magnitude 4 range
  • 5 earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range
  • 68 earthquakes in the magnitude 2 range
  • 277 earthquakes in the magnitude 1 range
  • 508 earthquakes in the magnitude 0 range
  • 19 earthquakes with magnitudes of less than zero

Earthquakes with a magnitude of less than zero are tiny events that can only be measured with extremely sensitive equipment.

Locations of the earthquakes in the latest swarm. (University of Utah)
Locations of the earthquakes in the latest swarm. (University of Utah)

An increase is seismic activity can mean that a volcano is about to erupt, the latest swarm has slowed down and larger events have been recorded in the past, Jacob Lowenstern, the scientist at the USGS told Newsweek.

In 2010, the earthquake swarm lasted three weeks. Prior to that, a huge swarm in 1985 went on for three months.

Tourist walk beside Yellowstone Lake at the West Thumb Geyser Basin in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on June 2, 2011. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists walk beside Yellowstone Lake at the West Thumb Geyser Basin in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on June 2, 2011. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

“The volcano alert level remains at green,” Lowenstein said. “We would need to see considerably more and larger earthquakes, combined with contemporaneous ground deformation, steam explosions, and changes in gas and heat discharge prior to moving the alert level. None of that has occurred.”

Tourists view the Morning Glory hot spring in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on May 14, 2016. (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists view the Morning Glory hot spring in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on May 14, 2016. (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The current odds of an actual eruption is 1 in 730,000, USGS scientists say. And even if the supervolcano did erupt, it would likely be just lava flow, similar to the last 80 eruptions. Yellowstone’s volcano continues to be a hot topic nonetheless because a super eruption 640,000 years ago was an event of global proportions.

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