Yellowstone volcano geologists have published their monthly activity report for July 2020, and the results are very different from the month before. Seismicity trackers positioned in the Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas have only detected 47 tremors. For comparison, in the 30 days of June, University of Utah seismographs recorded a total of 102 earthquakes.
And in May before that, a total of 288 earthquakes rocked the supervolcano park.
The Yellowstone update comes amid fears and rumours on social media the ancient supervolcano in the northwest corner of the US is overdue a cataclysmic blast.
One Twitter user said: “Does anyone believe if the Yellowstone volcano erupts that it will wipe out all humanity?
“Because scientists and NASA been saying this for years idk if it’s true or not.”
Another person tweeted: “Saw Yosemite trending but it’s OK. The overdue super volcano is in Yellowstone.”
But what exactly has been happening in Yellowstone throughout July?
According to the US Geological Service (USGS), all activity at Yellowstone remains at background levels.
Of the 47 earthquakes, the strongest was a magnitude 1.7 quake about 12 miles northwest of Pahaska Tepee, Wyoming, on July 3.
During this time, no earthquake swarms were detected the low number of tremors does not stand out compared to other months.
Normal activity for Yellowstone includes extensive seismicity, periods of uplift and subsidence
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Each year, between 700 and 3,000 earthquakes are detected in the Yellowstone area.
The vast majority of these quakes is not even felt by park guests.
The US National Park Service (NPS) said: “In Yellowstone, earthquakes help to maintain hydrothermal activity by keeping the ‘plumbing’ system open.
“Without periodic disturbance from relatively small earthquakes, the small fractures and conduits that supply hot water to geysers and hot springs might be sealed by mineral deposition.”
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The USGS has also not witnessed any change in ground deformation throughout the park.
The rate at which the ground rises or falls “remains largely unchanged over the past several months”.
Subsidence inside of the Yellowstone caldera averages a rate of about one inch per year and has been doing so since 2015.
The USGS said: “In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, little deformation has been detected by a nearby GPS station since the start of 2020.”
Similarly, there has been no unusual uptick or decrease in the number of geyser eruptions.
Yellowstone volcano is home to half of the world’s active geysers.
The park’s most popular feature, Steamboat Geyser, erupted six times in July, on July 3, July 9, July 23, July 29, July 24 and July 30.
This means the geyser has erupted a total of 39 this year so far.
And the good news is, geologists do not consider Yellowstone to be overdue another eruption now, or in the foreseeable future.
Yellowstone’s last major eruption went off about 640,000 years ago.
The USGS said: “Normal activity for Yellowstone includes extensive seismicity, periods of uplift and subsidence of the caldera, and intermittent changes to hydrothermal features at the surface.
“There are usually over a thousand earthquakes per year at Yellowstone.
“About 40 percent of the earthquakes every year are associated with swarms.”
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