Yellowstone Earthquake: Caldera Remains Calm

    March 30, 2014
    Ashley Olds
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The Norris Geyser Basin felt the seismic bass drop today – all 4.8 worth of it.

No injuries were sustained in the midst of this natural phenomenon common to Yellowstone – even though it was the strongest quake to hit the park since the 80’s. Yet, raised eyebrows about these more intense quakes have had more to do with whether the underlying Supervolcano would get triggered and erupt.

As North America’s largest volcanic field, Yellowstone National Park harbors a caldera (another name by which the Supervolcano goes). Because of the tectonic and volcanic qualities, the caldera realizes roughly 1 to 20 earthquakes daily, per the Yellowstone observatory. So the magnitude 3 and under quakes are fairly ritual and hardly “news” for the area. None of those quakes (nor the 1985 event) set it off, either – unless of course I’m writing this from the afterlife and nobody informed me.

While vain anxiety about an unstoppable natural force seems silly, suffice it to say that seismologists have offered to free us from our fears temporarily anyway. USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory spokesman Peter Cervelli spoke to NBC, indicating that the quake’s damage would be minor and that it is not expected to trigger any volcanic activity.

Perhaps the best advice on how to proceed serenely with the act of living our lives comes from the following writer for Exotic Hikes: “While scary, the most recent earthquake at Yellowstone National Park should not cause any panic,” he assures, adding: “In fact, it should encourage you to plan a trip and go visit the first National Park. With geysers, animals, amazing waterfalls and a lifetime of memories, let this earthquake serve as the perfect reminder to get outside and enjoy nature…while it is still around.”

Good point! Mother Nature’s not totally malevolent – and so long as there’s a rain check for Armageddon, we might as well revel in it.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • EKMcM

    That is such a serene photo, snow falling and a few buffalo meandering around as if there is nothing to worry about. I live in San Diego and we have some concern when earthquakes are happening in our part of the southwest. I have never been to Yellowstone but the idea of larger than 2 – 3.0 earthquakes would start me to worrying a lot. Living in California, I have learned a little bit about the rock movement in the faults between the continental plates but I know a lot less about the magma movement from under the earth. If I recall my reading about the underground Yellowstone area, it sits atop a rather large magma pool that is deep but there is a large finger of it close to the surface by the caldera?? The earthquakes are caused by the increasing pressure build up of the underground lave movement??

  • Velt

    Another good reason to visit: Forrest Fenn’s treasure might be buried in Yellowstone.