Yellowstone Earthquake Won't Cause Volcanic Eruption

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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

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