Yellowstone is a recreational wilderness located mostly in Wyoming. Hidden under the National Park, however, is a supervolcano thousands of times more powerful than a regular volcano. This has led the USGS to carefully monitor Yellowstone for the slightest seismic activity – and the park experienced an incredible 128 earthquakes in August alone.
If the supervolcano found below Yellowstone ever experienced another massive eruption, it could blast ash across much of the US, destroying buildings, killing crops, and affecting infrastructure.
The Yellowstone supervolcano has experienced three truly enormous eruptions.
One occurred 2.1 million years ago, another 1.3 million years ago, and the last 664,000 years ago.
But this should not mean locals should worry, as the odds of another Yellowstone supervolcano occurring are fortunately very low.
The USGS Volcano Hazards Program has reported a surprising number of earthquakes taking place in August.
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Michael Poland, USGS Scientist-in-Charge wrote: “During August 2019, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 128 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region.
“The largest event was a minor earthquake of magnitude 3.5 located 21 miles north-northwest of Moran, WY, on August 15 at 1:46 PM MDT.
“August seismicity in Yellowstone concluded with a swarm of 54 located earthquakes from August 27 to 31.
“The largest swarm event, a minor earthquake of magnitude 2.7, was located 6 miles south-southeast of West Thumb, in Yellowstone National Park, on August 29 at 4:24 PM MDT.”
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August was another record-setting month for Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest currently-active geyser.
The USGS monthly report added: “Steamboat experienced water eruptions on August 12, 20 and 27.
“The August 27 eruption was the 33rd of 2019, breaking the record for eruptions in a calendar year that was set in 2018.”
Unlike Old Faithful – a highly predictable geyser also in Yellowstone, which has erupted every 44 to 125 minutes since the year 2000 – Steamboat Geyser is unpredictable.
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Major eruptions are observed from this geyser on timescales ranging from four days to 50 years apart.
Steamboat witnessed an uptick in eruptions in the 1960s after being dormant for about 50 years.
The geyser also saw increased eruptions of water in the 1980s.
But, until 2018, Steamboat geyser had mainly been calm for approximately 15 years.