Yellowstone Earthquake Won’t Cause Volcanic Eruption

By: Ellisha Rader Mannering - March 31, 2014

Yellowstone National Park was struck by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake on Sunday morning and scientists say that it is the strongest earthquake to strike the area in 34 years. The quake struck at 6:34 a.m. with an epicenter about 23 miles from Yellowstone, Montana, and at a depth of 4.2 miles.

The quake is considered fairly small and only a few people reported feeling it. Those who did feel it compared it to the rumble of a passing train. Several smaller quakes were also felt that morning, but no damage or injuries were reported. There were only a few visitors in the park at the time of the quake.

Although many people feared that the quake might have triggered the mega volcano underneath the park to erupt, geophysicists say that there is nothing to worry about and the volcano is not going to erupt because of the earthquake.

Geologists are monitoring the volcano and say that when it does erupt, it could do so with 2,000 times the force of Mount St. Helens in Washington. In 2013, geologists determined that the magma chamber underneath the volcano was much bigger than they had originally thought.

Scientists know that the volcano will erupt again but are not sure when. Each earthquake that occurs makes the volcano more likely to erupt. The biggest earthquake to hit Yellowstone National Park happened on August 17, 1959. The Yellowstone volcano last erupted 640,000 years ago.

The volcano experiences up to 20 small earthquakes each day. Most of them measure less than 3.0 on the Richter scale and are not felt by people. Geologists study the effects these earthquakes have on the volcano to determine if they are likely to trigger an eruption. They have no way of predicting when the volcano will erupt or if a large earthquake will trigger an eruption.

Do you think an earthquake will trigger the Yellowstone volcano to erupt?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Ellisha Rader Mannering

About the Author

Ellisha Rader ManneringEllisha is a writer, wife, and mommy to Cyrus and Milo. She enjoys fishing, hiking, being outdoors, shopping, traveling with her family and teaching baton twirling. Follow her on Twitter @lishann

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  • DUMBFKER

    We can only hope!

    • Lena

      Why would you hope!? I live in Idaho and if that thing erupts we’re all in danger!!

  • Vampariah

    Um, tectonics are driven by earthquakes along fault lines, magma and volcano eruptions flow through the seams of these tectonics. The earth is moving under the volcano and the eruption will come. There has been very many earthquakes in the west lately. The rich people have already left the country, but this eruption will affect the whole world and blot out the sun for two years and cover north america in ash waist deep. There will be no plantlife, there will be carnivores eating starving herbavores, and armies will disband due to not getting paid for the whole lot of the earth will be rendered a wasteland. With no food, and no military, there is not enough bullets to keep anyone safe, and you are all on your own. Unless you live in a cave underground and live on mushrooms. The ancient helium has come up from under the volcano, a signal that the volcano will blow. This all looks very bleak and all, but the Volcano understands that it could wipe out life on earth, plus the powers that be, freaken spirits that have been through this before, namely the Gods won’t make it happen, so you can go back to your couch watch your dumb show to see one chest hair on some Hollywood actor for half a second and eat you pot brownies and carry on, because our life is too important to be snuffed out. I would consider sacrificing a virgin to appease the Volcano God or maybe a Maserati.

    • Kma Kma

      Well, I hope it holds up for at least another 50-100 years when I’ll be gone anyway.

  • Dave O

    There are a lot of earthquakes these days

    • michelle

      Lots of pressure on earth right now from the suns activity past week…hopefully things will start to settle down a bit…Notice article begins:”geophysicists say that there is nothing to worry about and the volcano is not going to erupt because of the earthquake.”&ends with:”Geologists study the effects these earthquakes have on the volcano to determine if they are likely to trigger an eruption. They have no way of predicting when the volcano will erupt or if a large earthquake will trigger an eruption.”Contradiction or what! Wow!

  • DEvans

    It’s not the quakes you need to worry about, but any fissures that open allowing the water from Yellowstone Lake to empty into the magma chamber. That would be the trigger to release immense steam pressure underground, wich in turn would open up the magma chamber and allow the volcano an eruption path to the surface. God help us all if that ever happens, as no one on earth will be immune from the effects.

  • Joe Nida

    Maybe someone who knows more about this than me can clear this up, small quake swarms are normal, right? Nothing to worry about. Isolated medium sized quakes shouldn’t cause concern, but make an eruption more likely? If they get a big one near there would that raise a red flag? Or what if the daily quakes begin to increase in intensity? Also, isn’t the quakes caused by the volcanic activity in the area? With the grater than average raising of the crust over the past few years, and the increase in swarms, it almost seems like she’s building up, but I’m not a geologist so that’s just an outsiders speculation.

  • Tim

    ‘No way of predicting it?! Yes there is. Ground deformation, earthquakes. Peopple the evidence is right in front of you. Yellowstone is ready, and FEMA and the USGS is covering it up. DOnt let them fool you!

  • Orangejuice12

    When they tell you not to panic, thats when you run!

  • Kma Kma

    I feel sad for the babies being born today and the youth who are most likely to go through the disaster.