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craton edge

Over the course of the past 48 hours, December 7th, through December 9th 2013 — a series of moderate sized earthquakes has struck directly along the edge of the North American Craton.

This newest craton edge earthquake swarm consists of upper 3.0M and mid-4.0M earthquakes occurring just South of Yellowstone National Park (supervolcano).  Still well within the newly definedperimeter of the underground magma chamber(s) associated with past eruptions.

This Yellowstone swarm is on top of yesterdays 4.5 magnitude event in Oklahoma, and the ADDITIONAL 3.7 magnitude event in Northeast Texas (both at fracking operation earthquake swarm locations).

Current Yellowstone 4.2M earthquake statistics:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usb000ldss#summary

Event Time

  1. 2013-12-08 18:08:08 UTC
  2. 2013-12-08 11:08:08 UTC-07:00 at epicenter
  3. 2013-12-08 12:08:08 UTC-06:00 system time

Location

43.217°N 110.632°W depth=5.0km (3.1mi)

Nearby Cities

  1. 14km (9mi) ESE of Hoback, Wyoming
  2. 111km (69mi) ESE of Ammon, Idaho
  3. 115km (71mi) SE of Rexburg, Idaho
  4. 117km (73mi) ESE of Idaho Falls, Idaho
  5. 292km (181mi) NNE of Salt Lake City, Utah

 

 May 2, 2012

The Next Yellowstone Supereruption Is Closer Than You Think

The Next Yellowstone Supereruption Is Closer Than You ThinkThe good news: scientists have discovered that "the Yellowstone super-volcano is a little less super than previously thought." The bad news: the Yellowstone super-volcano is "more active than previously thought." That means eruptions are more frequent. So the next one is likely closer than previously predicted. Gulp.

According to the the researchers from Washington State University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, the next eruption may not wipe out half of the United States, covering the rest in 3 feet of ash and pushing the world into hundreds of years of nuclear winter, challenging human civilization to a game of death and survival. That's what a previous study from the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters posited. Again, very good news.

But on the other hand, as Ben Ellis—a post-doctoral researcher at Washington State University's School of the Environment and co-author of this most recent study—says: "the Yellowstone volcano's previous behavior is the best guide of what it will do in the future. This research suggests explosive volcanism from Yellowstone is more frequent than previously thought."

Multiple eruptions

Their new research shows that what scientists thought was Yellowstone's biggest eruption, the origin of the the 2 million year old Huckleberry Ridge deposit, was actually two eruptions 6,000 years apart from each other. They used a new high-precision argon isotope dating technique to find this difference. This technology, says co-author Darren Mark, is "like getting a sharper lens on a camera. It allows us to see the world more clearly."

The result is that the first eruption that created Huckleberry Ridge was "only" 2,200 cubic kilometers, roughly 12 percent less than what geologists thought. Then a second eruption happened 6,000 years later, adding the remaining 290 cubic kilometers.

For comparison, Mount St. Helens produced 1 cubic kilometer of ash in its 1980 eruption. And the latest comparable eruption registered in the United States were the 116 cubic kilometers of ash produced by Mount Mazama in Oregon, 6,850 years ago.

Somehow, the idea of the Yellowstone super-volcano eruption being 12-percent less powerful than previously thought but more frequent doesn't make me feel much better.

HERE IS A MORE RECENT VIDEO WITH DETAILS THAT ARE PERTINENT:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddy-h8R_t_E&feature=share  

Yellowstone Super-Volcano Plume Bigger Than Thought

By Earth Changes Media
Apr 11, 2011

 

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves.

"It's like comparing ultrasound and MRI in the human body; they are different imaging technologies," says geophysics Professor Michael Zhdanov, principal author of the new study and an expert on measuring magnetic and electrical fields on Earth's surface to find oil, gas, minerals and geologic structures underground.

"It's a totally new and different way of imaging and looking at the volcanic roots of Yellowstone," says study co-author Robert B. Smith, professor emeritus and research professor of geophysics and a coordinating scientist of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

The new University of Utah study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, which plans to publish it within the next few weeks.

In a December 2009 study, Smith used seismic waves from earthquakes to make the most detailed seismic images yet of the "hotspot" plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone volcano. Seismic waves move faster through cold rock and slower through hot rock. Measurements of seismic-wave speeds were used to make a three-dimensional picture, quite like X-rays are combined to make a medical CT scan.



The 2009 images showed the plume of hot and molten rock dips downward from Yellowstone at an angle of 60 degrees and extends 150 miles west-northwest to a point at least 410 miles under the Montana-Idaho border – as far as seismic imaging could "see."

In the new study, images of the Yellowstone plume's electrical conductivity – generated by molten silicate rocks and hot briny water mixed in partly molten rock – shows the conductive part of the plume dipping more gently, at an angle of perhaps 40 degrees to the west, and extending perhaps 400 miles from east to west. The geoelectric image can "see" only 200 miles deep.

Two Views of the Yellowstone Volcanic Plume

Smith says the geoelectric and seismic images of the Yellowstone plume look somewhat different because "we are imaging slightly different things." Seismic images highlight materials such as molten or partly molten rock that slow seismic waves, while the geoelectric image is sensitive to briny fluids that conduct electricity.

"It [the plume] is very conductive compared with the rock around it," Zhdanov says. "It's close to seawater in conductivity."

The lesser tilt of the geoelectric plume image raises the possibility that the seismically imaged plume, shaped somewhat like a tilted tornado, may be enveloped by a broader, underground sheath of partly molten rock and liquids, Zhdanov and Smith say.

"It's a bigger size" in the geoelectric picture, says Smith. "We can infer there are more fluids" than shown by seismic images.

Despite differences, he says, "this body that conducts electricity is in about the same location with similar geometry as the seismically imaged Yellowstone plume."

Zhdanov says that last year, other researchers presented preliminary findings at a meeting comparing electrical and seismic features under the Yellowstone area, but only to shallow depths and over a smaller area.

The study was conducted by Zhdanov, Smith, two members of Zhdanov's lab – research geophysicist Alexander Gribenko and geophysics Ph.D. student Marie Green – and computer scientist Martin Cuma of the University of Utah's Center for High Performance Computing. Funding came from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Consortium for Electromagnetic Modeling and Inversion, which Zhdanov heads.

The Yellowstone Hotspot at a Glance

The new study says nothing about the chances of another cataclysmic caldera (giant crater) eruption at Yellowstone, which has produced three such catastrophes in the past 2 million years.

Almost 17 million years ago, the plume of hot and partly molten rock known as the Yellowstone hotspot first erupted near what is now the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border. As North America drifted slowly southwest over the hotspot, there were more than 140 gargantuan caldera eruptions – the largest kind of eruption known on Earth – along a northeast-trending path that is now Idaho's Snake River Plain.



The hotspot finally reached Yellowstone about 2 million years ago, yielding three huge caldera eruptions about 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago. Two of the eruptions blanketed half of North America with volcanic ash, producing 2,500 times and 1,000 times more ash, respectively, than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Smaller eruptions occurred at Yellowstone in between the big blasts and as recently as 70,000 years ago.

Seismic and ground-deformation studies previously showed the top of the rising volcanic plume flattens out like a 300-mile-wide pancake 50 miles beneath Yellowstone. There, giant blobs of hot and partly molten rock break off the top of the plume and slowly rise to feed the magma chamber – a spongy, banana-shaped body of molten and partly molten rock located about 4 miles to 10 miles beneath the ground at Yellowstone.

Computing a Geoelectrical Image of Yellowstone's Hotspot Plume

Zhdanov and colleagues used data collect by EarthScope, an NSF-funded effort to collect seismic, magnetotelluric and geodetic (ground deformation) data to study the structure and evolution of North America. Using the data to image the Yellowstone plume was a computing challenge because so much data was involved.

Inversion is a formal mathematical method used to "extract information about the deep geological structures of the Earth from the magnetic and electrical fields recorded on the ground surface," Zhdanov says. Inversion also is used to convert measurements of seismic waves at the surface into underground images.



Magnetotelluric measurements record very low frequencies of electromagnetic radiation – about 0.0001 to 0.0664 Hertz – far below the frequencies of radio or TV signals or even electric power lines. This low-frequency, long-wavelength electromagnetic field penetrates a couple hundred miles into the Earth. By comparison, TV and radio waves penetrate only a fraction of an inch.

The EarthScope data were collected by 115 stations in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – the three states straddled by Yellowstone National Park. The stations, which include electric and magnetic field sensors, are operated by Oregon State University for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, a consortium of universities.

In a supercomputer, a simulation predicts expected electric and magnetic measurements at the surface based on known underground structures. That allows the real surface measurements to be "inverted" to make an image of underground structure.

Zhdanov says it took about 18 hours of supercomputer time to do all the calculations needed to produce the geoelectric plume picture. The supercomputer was the Ember cluster at the University of Utah's Center for High Performance Computing, says Cuma, the computer scientist.

Ember has 260 nodes, each with 12 CPU (central processing unit) cores, compared with two to four cores commonly found on personal computer, Cuma says. Of the 260 nodes, 64 were used for the Yellowstone study, which he adds is "roughly equivalent to 200 common PCs."

To create the geoelectric image of Yellowstone's plume required 2 million pixels, or picture elements.

Earth Changes Media

6-30-10 - WHY DID NO ONE QUESTION WHY A 10,000 YEAR OLD GLACIER SUDDENLY MELTED?

Melting Ice Unearths Ancient Weapon Near Yellowstone

may    
Wednesday, 30 June 2010

One rule of living in a northern clime: you never know what will turn up in the yard when the snow melts. That was especially true for researcher Craig Lee, who found a 10,000-year-old weapon after glaciers melted close to Yellowstone National Park.

The researcher, Craig Lee, a researcher at University of Colorado, Boulder, identified the weapon as a birch atlatl dart, about 3 feet long. Lee theorized that because glaciers and ice patches are melting at a faster rate in recent years, more archaeological discoveries are being discovered.

Lee commented, “We didn’t realize until the early 2000s that there was a potential to find archaeological materials in association with melting permanent snow and ice in many areas of the globe.”

The spear found near Yellowstone is just one of many potential relics that can be found in melting ice. Lee is working with other researchers to create a geographic information system (GIS) to pinpoint other possible locations of frozen artifacts. In addition, he said that the most likely things uncovered in melting ice would be discarded or lost weaponry, like arrows or darts that missed their target.

12-28-09

Yellowstone Supervolcano Bigger Than Once Thought

Published December 27, 2009 4:00 PM
 
You know that supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park? The one responsible for the steam that makes the place famous? Well, it turns out that supervolcano is super indeed — both bigger and deeper than scientists had previously known. Host Guy Raz speaks with geophysicist Robert Smith of the University of Utah about his new research on the larger-than-thought volcanic system beneath Yellowstone.
 
The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park is bigger, much bigger, than scientists had previously thought. A team of researchers found that the plume of hot and molten rock that feeds the volcano rises from a depth of more than 400 miles below the earth's surface. And the reservoir that holds that molten rock, well, it's 20 percent larger than we once knew.

University of Utah geophysicist Robert Smith led that team and joins us from member station KUER in Salt Lake City.

Welcome to the program.

Professor ROBERT SMITH (Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah; Geophysicist): Thank you. Glad to be here.

RAZ: Can you put this supervolcano into a perspective for us? I mean, how have its past eruptions compared to, you know, a volcano like Mount St. Helens?

Prof. SMITH: Well, recall that Yellowstone National Park, of course, is the quintessential geology park with hot springs and geysers. They derive their heat from magma from an active volcanic system that has been in the Yellowstone area active for about two million years.

In the two-million-year span, there's been three giant eruptions. And these, you know, occurred, well, two million years, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago. And in between these eruptions and since the last one, there's been smaller eruptions, many much bigger than those of Mount St. Helens.

RAZ: Now, Professor Smith, presumably, you and your team could not start digging underground to find this magma chamber and actually measure it because you wouldn't be speaking to us now, how did you actually figure this out?

Prof. SMITH: Well, we use a method called seismic tomography, which is similar to a CAT scan of a human body.

RAZ: Mm-hmm.

Prof. SMITH: And we measure the speed of earthquake-produced waves that propagate through the earth. And we record them on a large array of seismographs at the surface. And when a seismic wave, just like a sound wave I'm talking to you is a seismic wave, if it's speeded up or slowed down by the rock material, and hot rock produces generally lower speeds of sound than cold rocks, and so what we then do is record, you know, literally thousands of earthquakes and do a computer reconstruction of where they were slowed down or speeded up. And from that, we can construct an image. We're illuminating a body just like turning on a light or like taking a CAT scan or an X-ray.

RAZ: Now, there are two components to this, right? I mean, there's the magma chamber, which is 20 percent larger.

Prof. SMITH: Right.

RAZ: But then there's this volcanic plume that is about 400 miles below the earth's surface, below - actually below the town of Wisdom, Montana, which is, what, about 100 miles from Yellowstone?

Prof. SMITH: Yeah, that discovery we've made in the sense that most people had originally implied that plumes in the earth, they're just vertical features like boiling water in a teapot. And what we found is, in fact, it's tilted because the Earth's mantle is moving at a few centimeters per year, and it's tilted because the hot material is caught in the wind of the mantle.

I'd like to use the analogy you see smoke rising, and when it gets into a breeze, it gets slightly tilted by the breeze. Well, that's what's happening in the Earth's mantle beneath the Yellowstone area.

RAZ: So, any reaction from the folks in Wisdom, Montana? I mean, are they sort of preparing to become a vacation destination in the next million years or so?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SMITH: I'm not sure that they've heard my story lately, but I doubt that they're too concerned about that. Nothing that's going to have any effect on the surface of the Earth there at all.

RAZ: That's Robert Smith. He is a research professor at the University of Utah. His findings on Yellowstone's supervolcano appear in the Journal of Vulcanology and Geothermal Research.

Robert Smith, thank you so much.

FROM; http://www.wbur.org/npr/121954323

 

Prof. SMITH: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

 

Arnica Fire, Yellowstone National Park from Space

The late summer/fall wildfire season is in full swing in the western United States. Significant wildfires are observed each year by astronauts orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station. This astronaut photograph documents the Arnica Fire in Yellowstone National Park.

The fire was started by a lightning strike near Yellowstone Lake on September 13, 2009. By the time it was detected on September 23, 2009, it covered approximately 2 hectares (4 acres). The fire was photographed by the astronauts on the following day (September 24); by then, it had grown to 101 hectares (250 acres) in size. Warm, dry and windy conditions in the area provided a favorable environment for growth of the fire, and as of October 1, 2009, the fire was estimated to be 3,764 hectares (9,300 acres) in size.
 

<>
The image is highly oblique, or taken looking outwards at an angle, rather than straight down towards the Earth’s surface. The ISS was approximately above Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada—almost 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) to the northeast of the fire—when this image was taken using a long lens. Landmarks visible in the image include Yellowstone and Jackson Lakes at image center; the Teton Range is visible in the background. The reflection of the smoke plume is visible in Yellowstone Lake.

October 20th, 2009 11:30 EST

Wolf Packs are Being Stalked and Killed

By SOP newswire2

Entire wolf packs in the Greater Yellowstone and northern Rockies region are being stalked and killed.

Already destroyed is
Yellowstone National Park`s famous Cottonwood pack. The pack`s adults were all apparently gunned down -- and now the surviving pups will likely starve to death without their family.

Please make an emergency donation to expand our public awareness campaign by running a powerful, eyecatching ad in New York`s Times Square and save these wolves and other wildlife -- part of our comprehensive 5-point plan to counter the biggest threat to wolves
in the region since they were reintroduced over a decade ago.

Your generous support will help us in one of our most ambitious public mobilization efforts yet:
a Times Square ad that will run during the famous Macy`s Thanksgiving Day Parade and reach millions of Americans.

Please help us run our Times Square ad through the Thanksgiving Holiday -- and mobilize millions to help save wolves in the Greater Yellowstone and northern Rockies region. Help us reach our goal of raising $150,000 by Friday, October 23rd.

Already,
more than 60 wolves have been killed in Idaho and Montana. And hundreds more wolves will be targeted in the coming weeks.

In fact, Idaho`s hunting season in some critical areas extends into the crucial denning season for wolves, which could put
denning wolf mothers and their newborn pups at grave risk.

Please help us stop the senseless wolf killing in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

Our five-point plan to save wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies is moving into high gear.

Over the span of just a few days,
more than 80,000 Defenders supporters like you have signed our petition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging his immediate action to stop the killing -- an absolutely incredible response by caring wildlife
supporters.

In the courts, our legal team has won an important ruling from a federal judge that indicates
we`re likely to eventually win our case to restore protections for northern Rockies wolves.

And our new ad featuring powerful imagery of wolves is being placed on the CBS big screen in Times Square -- a 520 square-foot, full-color screen seen by
hundreds of thousands of people each day and will reach millions. And with your help, we can keep it running even during the famous Macy`s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Please donate today to help us reach millions of Americans and stop the wolf killing in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies and save other wildlife.

Together, we can save the wolves that you and I care so much about -- and ensure they have a lasting future.

Sincerely,
Rodger Schlickeisen, President Signature
Rodger Schlickeisen
President
Defenders of Wildlife

5-25-09 -  quakes at yellowstone   http://www.seis.utah.edu/req2webdir/recenteqs/Maps/Yellowstone.html

 

5-25-09 -

Geologists witness rare Yellowstone explosion

by ANGUS M. THUERMER
The Associated Press

(AP) — YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - Yellowstone National Park geologist Hank Heasler was lecturing a group of colleagues in Biscuit Basin on the rarity of hydrothermal explosions last week when Boom!

A hot pool behind him exploded, spewing mud, rocks and hot water 50 feet in the air. Geologists know of only a handful of such unpredictable explosions in Yellowstone's recorded history.

Heasler on May 17 was addressing a group of geologists, geophysicists, graduate students, U.S. Geological Survey employees and university faculty members on a tour of the basin led by University of Utah Professor Bob Smith. The group was just out of reach of the scalding water and debris.

"I couldn't decide; should I run or grab my camera," Smith said in a telephone interview from his home in Moose. "By the time I got people down, to stand back, it was over."

The event lasted five or 10 seconds, Smith said. "I wasn't afraid, but I was very prudent, very anxious."

Smith had guided his group of about 25 people from the annual meeting of EarthScope, a national consortium of earth-science professionals who gathered this year in Boise. The post-conference tour followed the track of the Yellowstone hotspot across Idaho to the world's first national park.

Smith took the group around parts of Yellowstone, ending up at Biscuit Basin, just downstream from Old Faithful. He chose the site not for its geysers there are none but for its various hot springs.

"We had commented that this place had exploded before, one time a year for three years," Smith said.

Evidence of other hydrothermal explosions was found in Bechler River drainage last year, at Porkchop Geyser in Norris Geyser Basin in 1989 and at Excelsior Geyser in Midway Geyser basin where a tourist made a photograph of the event in 1878, Smith said. Larger prehistoric hydrothermal explosions, including one that created Mary Bay on Yellowstone Lake, produced craters as wide as a kilometer across.

A hydrothermal explosion is similar to a geyser's eruption except that "it blows the lid out," not just water, Smith said. "It is so violent it breaks the surrounding rocks out with it."

Last week, nature's forces created a display for the most dedicated of students.

"Hank Heasler was making the point these are rare events," Smith said. "I had my back to the hot springs system.

"It started off with an explosion," he said. "I heard this roar. I really thought it was a truck coming down the boardwalk."

After the water, mud, rocks and chunks of broken sinter fell harmlessly to Earth, the group approached the spring. None had instruments thermometers or water gauges to take any immediate readings.

"The remaining water was murky," Smith said. "It was totally full of debris."

It was impossible to tell how large the new opening for the spring was because of the murky water, Smith said.

A geophysicist, Smith said he would consider a magnitude 8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, a magma eruption in Yellowstone or a big earthquake on the Wasatch or Teton Fault career-defining events. Yet he was able to take an aerial photograph of a rare eruption of Steamboat Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin and now has witnessed a hydrothermal explosion.

"This is once in a lifetime," he said. "It was a learning experience."

And for the field trip, "it was a fitting ending," he said. "They all said I had planned it."

© 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

A swarm of earthquakes is one sign that an eruption may be brewing and last winter Yellowstone National Park was rocked by a rash of tremors.

 

"There were over a thousand earthquakes in about one week," said Park Geologist Hank Heasler. "That isn't unprecedented in the parks history, but it is unusual."

"It was one of the largest swarms in the past 20 years," said USGS Volcanologist Dr. Jake Lowenstern. "It certainly got a lot of people's attention, including ours."

The entire park that exists today is the caldera of the last major eruption 640,000 years ago and experts say that eruption was destructive on a scale like we have never seen before.

"This put out about a thousand times more volcanic material than Mount St. Helens," said Heasler. "To put that in perspective, it's the difference between spending $1,000 and $1,000,000.

That eruption in 1980 in Washington was the deadliest and most destructive volcanic event in the nation's history. 57 people lost their lives in the eruption and volcanic ash was scattered across 12 surrounding states. But experts say another major eruption at Yellowstone would be much more deadly and destructive.

But how will we know if another big eruption is brewing? Dr. Jake Lowenstern is a member of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory which is in charge of monitoring the park's supervolcano. The partnership between Yellowstone National Park, the US Geological Survey, and the University of Utah uses seismograph and ground deformation sensors to keep an eye on what is happening deep underground. Based on their research of the Yellowstone hotspot, the Observatory says another eruption is likely and may even happen in our lifetime. But fortunately for tourists and those living nearby, they say it won't be the big one.

"In a worse case scenario, the big super eruption, is very destructive and would cause a world of hurt to anybody living in the region around Yellowstone and surrounding states," said Lowenstern. "However, the big eruption is not what's most likely to happen here if we do get a volcanic eruption. Much more likely is some localized lava flows that will have an affect within the park. People will need to move out of the way. There will be fires. But people living hundreds of miles away, or even tens of miles outside the park are very unlikely to be affected."

"We have a very sophisticated monitoring system that will give us advanced warning if anything does start to occur," said Heasler. "So the best thing to do is come to the park and enjoy the beauty."

 


4-7-09 - Yellowstone earthquake swarm

Public release date: 9-Apr-2009

Contact: Nan Broadbent
nan0604@msn.com
408-431-9885
Seismological Society of America
 

Monitoring Yellowstone earthquake swarms

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) is an international scientific society devoted to the advancement of seismology and its applications in understanding and mitigating earthquake hazards and in imaging the structure of the earth.

The second largest earthquake swarm ever recorded in Yellowstone National Park occurred during the two weeks from 27 December 2008 and 7 January 2009 and included more than 1000 earthquakes. Analysis of the swarm suggests epicenters migrated north over the 12 day period and maximum hypocenter depths abruptly shallowed from 12 km to 3 km depth at the time of rapid cessation of activity on Jan. 7. Source properties of the swarm earthquakes suggest that the swarm may be due to the movement of hydrothermal fluids through pre-existing cracks, as suggested by recent analysis by University of Utah scientists.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) was created as a partnership among the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park, and University of Utah to strengthen the long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake unrest in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park.

Yellowstone earthquake swarms
Session: Volcano Monitoring Using Seismology and Complementary Methods
Location: Bonsai Ballroom, Thursday, 9 April, 2009, 1:30 p.m.


New 3.8 Mag. Earthquake Hits Outside of Yellowstone

At 9:15 PM local (Wyoming) a 3.8 magnitude earthquake has hit approximately 100 miles south of Yellowstone near Alpine, Wyoming. Local ABC news Channel 8 reports viewers from Swan Valley and Palisades, Idaho as well as Alpine and Jackson Hole, Wyoming describe their beds shaking, hearing their walls crack, feeling a tremor and shaking. There have been no reports of any damage.

USGS report: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 04:15:35 UTC. Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 09:15:35 PM at epicenter. Location 43.232?N, 110.894?W. Depth 5 km (3.1 miles) set by location program. Region WYOMING. Distances 12 km (7 miles) ENE (59?) from Alpine Northeast, WY. 13 km (8 miles) ENE (65?) from Alpine Northwest, WY.

 

1-11-09 - The most recent Yellowstone Volcano Observatory states:
 
About 900 earthquakes occurred between Dec. 26, 2008 and Jan. 8, 2009 in the Yellowstone Lake area. Five hundred of the earthquakes (including all greater than magnitude 2.0) have been reviewed by seismologists. There were 111 earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 2.0 (> M2.0)and 18 earthquakes > M3.0. About 400 smaller earthquakes have yet to be reviewed.

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/publications/2009/09swarm.php
 
Further:

The recent swarm is well above typical activity at Yellowstone. Nevertheless it is not unprecedented during the last 40 years of monitoring. Earthquake swarms within the Yellowstone caldera are typical, with magnitudes occasionally ranging above 4.0. The 1985 swarm on the northwest rim of the caldera lasted for three months, with earthquakes up to M4.9 and over 3000 total events recorded.
 
Me: Earthquake swarms have occurred in the past and are not necessarily associated with eruptions. No eruption is indicated and even a future eruption could be of basaltic (non-explosive) magma rather than highly viscous, explosive, rhyolitic magma. I have attached an article from 2005 and an excerpt of a more recent 2007 article.
 
At the moment theory tends towards large-scale caldera forming explosions as very unlikely with the idea that not enough viscous-explosive, rhyolitic magma remains in the chamber below. Also larger scale earthquakes in this location are not always associated with eruptions.
 
In 1959 a 7.5 earthquake occurred on the northwestern boundary of the park, which caused landslides, but was not associated with a volcanic eruption. The current swarms all appear to be 4 or less and similar swarms have occurred in the past. Some past swarms were even triggered by initial quake activity in Alaska.
 
I would be a lot more worried if there had been intensive swelling or smoke activity.
 
Quotation from the 2007 Excerpt:
 
Of all the possible eruptive hazards that might occur in the region of Yellowstone National Park, by far the least likely is that of another major caldera-forming pyroclastic eruption of 100 km3 or greater. Three such events have occurred in about the past 2 million years, each associated with a cycle of precaldera and postcaldera rhyolitic volcanism lasting on the order of a million years.
 
In the Island Park area, west of the 639±2-ka Yellowstone caldera, the older rhyolitic source areas have subsequently produced basaltic lava eruptions. In contrast, contemporaneous basaltic magmas surround the Yellowstone caldera, but none have erupted within the caldera. This pattern strongly suggests that the crust where rhyolitic magma chambers existed during the previous two major caldera-forming eruptions and their associated rhyolitic volcanism has cooled and solidified sufficiently to fracture and allow basaltic magmas to intrude from below, precluding the possibility of large volumes of eruptible rhyolitic magma remaining
there.
 
However, the great heat flow represented by the massive long-lived hydrothermal circulation system of Yellowstone (Fournier, 1989) as well as significant delays in seismic-wave travel times and wave attenuation imaged in the shallow crust beneath the Yellowstone caldera (Benz and Smith, 1984; Miller and Smith, 1999; Husen and others, 2004) strongly suggest the continued presence of magma. What remain most uncertain are (1) the percentage of melt in the remaining, partly crystallized magma, (2) its degree of interconnection, and (3) its potential eruptibility.

 

There are too many earthquakes to list them all. Here are the latest:

Earthquake List for Map Centered at 44°N, 110°W

Update time = Sun Jan 11 0:00:02 UTC 2009

Here are the earthquakes in the Map Centered at 44°N, 110°W area, most recent at the top.
(Some early events may be obscured by later ones.)
Click on the underlined portion of an earthquake record in the list below for more information.
 

  MAG UTC DATE-TIME
y/m/d h:m:s
LAT
deg
LON
deg
DEPTH
km
LOCATION
MAP 1.7 2009/01/09 19:47:41 44.659 -110.242 5.5 46 km ( 29 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.4 2009/01/09 19:08:27 44.691 -110.253 2.2 44 km ( 27 mi) SW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.9 2009/01/09 18:57:14 44.665 -110.274 2.0 47 km ( 29 mi) SW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.8 2009/01/09 18:51:31 44.665 -110.261 4.4 47 km ( 29 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 3.3 2009/01/09 18:17:31 44.678 -110.254 3.1 45 km ( 28 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.4 2009/01/09 18:10:39 44.669 -110.265 2.4 46 km ( 29 mi) SW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 2.4 2009/01/09 18:08:13 44.669 -110.254 4.2 46 km ( 29 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.1 2009/01/09 18:06:02 44.669 -110.256 2.2 46 km ( 29 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 2.2 2009/01/09 14:41:10 44.665 -110.254 4.3 46 km ( 29 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.0 2009/01/09 14:37:12 44.677 -110.238 2.2 45 km ( 28 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
MAP 1.3 2009/01/07 02:01:53 44.499 -110.374 2.1 61 km ( 38 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.3 2009/01/05 12:31:55 44.512 -110.374 2.3 60 km ( 37 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.9 2009/01/04 09:17:13 44.503 -110.376 0.0 60 km ( 38 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.1 2009/01/04 07:09:28 44.579 -110.664 11.3 36 km ( 22 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.3 2009/01/04 07:09:09 44.609 -110.688 7.6 34 km ( 21 mi) E of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.4 2009/01/04 07:08:49 44.610 -110.681 8.3 34 km ( 21 mi) E of West Yellowstone, MT
MAP 1.8 2009/01/04 03:46:19 44.539 -110.380 0.2 59 km ( 37 mi) ESE of West Yellowstone, MT

Back to Map Centered at 44°N, 110°W

 

 

Scientists eye unusual swarm of Yellowstone quakes

12-28-08


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

"They're certainly not normal," Smith said. "We haven't had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years."

Smith directs the Yellowstone Seismic Network, which operates seismic stations around the park. He said the quakes have ranged in strength from barely detectable to one of magnitude 3.8 that happened Saturday. A magnitude 4 quake is capable of producing moderate damage.

"This is an active volcanic and tectonic area, and these are the kinds of things we have to pay attention to," Smith said. "We might be seeing something precursory.

"Could it develop into a bigger fault or something related to hydrothermal activity? We don't know. That's what we're there to do, to monitor it for public safety."

The strongest of dozens of tremors Monday was a magnitude 3.3 quake shortly after noon. All the quakes were centered beneath the northwest end of Yellowstone Lake.

A park ranger based at the north end of the lake reported feeling nine quakes over a 24-hour period over the weekend, according to park spokeswoman Stacy Vallie. No damage was reported.

"There doesn't seem to be anything to be alarmed about," Vallie said.

Smith said it's difficult to say what might be causing the tremors. He pointed out that Yellowstone is the caldera of a volcano that last erupted 70,000 years ago.

He said Yellowstone remains very geologically active — and its famous geysers and hot springs are a reminder that a pool of magma still exists five to 10 miles underground.

"That's just the surface manifestation of the enormous amount of heat that's being released through the system," he said.

Yellowstone has had significant earthquakes as well as minor ones in recent decades. In 1959, a magnitude 7.5 quake near Hebgen Lake just west of the park triggered a landslide that killed 28 people.

 

 

YELLOWSTONE region
Mag. 1.6 April 23 06:50:02 41.990 -111.824 2.7 3 km (2 mi) SSW of Franklin, ID
Mag. 1.0 April 23 09:27:36 41.993 -111.825 2.9 3 km (2 mi) SW of Franklin, ID
Mag. 1.0 April 23 10:20:26 41.989 -111.824 3.1 3 km (2 mi) SSW of Franklin, ID
Mag. 1.3 April 23 11:18:58 41.988 -111.826 2.4 4 km (2 mi) SSW of Franklin, ID
Mag. 1.6 April 23 01:41:13 41.992 -111.823 2.3 3 km (2 mi) SSW of Franklin, ID

 

Small earthquake rattles Yellowstone
 

March 25, 2008 09:43 AM PST
 

A minor earthquake rattled a remote part of northeastern Yellowstone National Park early Tuesday morning at 5:59 a.m.

The magnitude 4.1 quake was centered about 15 miles north of Yellowstone's east entrance and people reported feeling the quake as far away as Billings and Thermopolis, in western Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park is known as a hotspot for geological activity, and very small earthquakes occur in the park regularly.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Swelling Mysteriously

Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
 
Nov. 8, 2007 -- The turmoil beneath Yellowstone's "supervolcano" is raising the land as much as 2.8 inches per year, new ground measurements show. But the inflating land is not about to erupt, assured geologists, despite the caldera's ancient history of massive explosions.

The "supervolcano" is really a caldera, a basin-shaped volcanic feature formed in the wake of a large eruption. Spanning roughly 925 square miles in the northwest corner of Wyoming, the Yellowstone Caldera is thought to erupt every few hundred thousand years, but its exact origins remain a mystery.

What can be said is that the recent swell of the land there fits into a larger history of rises and falls that have been underway for a lot longer than geologists have been around to make sense of them, explained geologist Robert Smith of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He, Wu-Lung Chang and other colleagues report on the most recent changes at the famous volcanic park in the Nov. 9 issue of the journal Science.

The latest episode began in mid-2004 in the Sour Creek area of the Yellowstone Caldera, just north of Yellowstone Lake. There the swelling is the sharpest yet recorded. The previous six years had seen the land sinking at 1/3 inch per year, the team reported.

"What we know is that we have some intrusion of melt," said Smith, referring to the upward movement of hot, melted rock from around 6 miles underground. That melt is coming out of a large, cooling blob of magma that Smith and his colleagues spotted directly under the geyser-rich caldera using 3-D seismic imaging techniques.

The rising heat from that blob, plus the upward flow of some molten materials, are the most likely explanation for the swelling surface, as detected by a network of Global Positioning System stations in the park.

Smith said he hopes that a recent gravity survey -- conducted on a shoestring budget -- will help them sort out exactly what is moving, and where, underground. Gravity measurements allow geologist to detect how masses change underground by the tiny changes in gravity at any given spot on the surface.

And even though there is no mountain of magma about to erupt, the study of Yellowstone is central to understanding caldera-type "supervolcanoes" worldwide, said geologist David Hill of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. Hill's job is to monitor California's version of Yellowstone -- the Long Valley Caldera east of Yosemite National Park.

"Any time we see one of these unrest episodes we learn about the processes that drive it," said Hill. For instance, calderas have been known to rise nearly several feet without erupting, he said. "That's a lot more uplift than we see before eruption on central vent volcanoes," he said, referring to the deadly blasts from single-maw volcanoes like Vesuvius, Pinatubo or St. Helen.

Calderas, by comparison, cover a lot more ground than central-vent volcanoes and have many vents from which they could pour ash and lava, said Hill. As a result, even a relatively small eruption from a caldera is much harder to predict and plan for because it's hard to know where in the caldera the magma will burst out.

~~~~~~

10 November 2007 04:23
 

Yellowstone: the time bomb under America

Deep beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a vast super-volcano which, if it blew up, could devastate much of the US. Recently, it's been a bit too restless for comfort. David Usborne reports

Published: 10 November 2007

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park in the north-western United States know not to be careless about the bears that roam its pines or the many hissing and sizzling geysers that dot its magnificent landscape. Few ever worry about being blown into space, though.

Startling new geological data published yesterday in the journal Science suggests that it might be a good idea for most of us – and certainly those living in the region – to be aware that there is more to Yellowstone than grand vistas and abundant wildlife. The hot springs are a clue to what lies beneath: seething layers of molten magma, super-heated gases and hydrothermal liquids.

Yellowstone straddles one of Earth's most studied "hot-spots", where fissures in the crust, created by volcanic eruptions of eons past, have allowed giant streams of molten rock, or magma, to push closer than normal to the planet's surface. In recent years something intriguing – if not to say thoroughly nerve-rattling – has been going on. The magma is on the move. And so is Yellowstone.

Over the past three years, according to the report, the ground in the volcanic caldera that spans about 925 square miles and accounts for much of the park's terrain has been rising towards the sky at the rate of almost three inches per year. That is three times faster than has ever been observed before. It raises the obvious question: what is happening under the park? And what might be about to happen?

The study's authors are aware, of course, that the notion of Yellowstone being some kind of humming volcanic time-bomb is not something that tourism officials will want to advertise. And, indeed, any kind of panic because of the new data, remarkable though it is, would be entirely misplaced, they insist. "There is no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption or hydrothermal explosion. That's the bottom line," insists Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah and the lead researcher in this study. "A lot of calderas worldwide go up and down over decades without erupting."

It may also be reassuring to know that no very big bangs have happened at Yellowstone for a very long time. The caldera, the walls of which are easily discernible from some vantage points in the park, was formed by some massive eruption past when a more classic-looking volcanic cone was probably obliterated. And while the park is still technically a "super-volcano" , it is estimated that it has not blown its top for 640,000 years. If you are planning to be in the park on a Thursday next March, therefore, the chances of it detonating that particular afternoon are surely slim.

No one is about to take their eyes off the park, however, not least because of these unusual new findings that suggest at least that pressures beneath the ground are rising. Moreover, geologists are well aware that were a major eruption indeed to happen, the impact would rival any natural disaster the world has ever seen. Remember the destruction when Mount St Helens flipped her lid in 1980, turning 240 square miles into a wasteland? The energy released at Yellowstone would be many hundreds of times greater.

Moreover, Yellowstone may be due a massive release. Geologists believe that the super-volcano beneath the park has undergone major eruptions at roughly 650,000-year intervals. There have been about 140 such events over 16 million years. Because the last serious explosion is believed to have taken place 640,000 years ago – although there was a minor flare-up 70,000 years ago – who is to say, really, that another one is indeed not imminent? Scientists have been observing the rising and falling of the ground at Yellowstone since 1923. The last most rapid period of upward movement occurred between 1976 and 1985, but only at a rate of about one inch a year. Professor Smith and his assistants began taking their readings in 2004 with instruments aided by satellite tracking placed at numerous spots across the caldera. They have even observed undulations in the caldera's surface, with some spots rising faster than others one year and then slowing down again while different areas catch up.

In the study, Accelerated Uplift and Magmatic Intrusion of the Yellowstone Caldera, 2004 to 2006, the authors note that while most of the magma remains about 400 miles below the surface, a significant plume rises to about 30 miles deep, where it spreads out horizontally like a pancake that is larger than Los Angeles. It seems likely that the pancake is expanding and causing the floor of the caldera suddenly to rise.

"Our best evidence is that the crustal magma chamber is filling with molten rock," Professor Smith explained. "But we have no idea how long this process goes on before there either is an eruption or the inflow of molten rock stops and the caldera deflates again." In other words, something is afoot, but no techniques exist to forecast what comes next. The prediction is easier for single-channel, cone volcanoes. At a caldera such as Yellowstone, the magma could suddenly blow through at any number of locations. "We use the term 'restless' to describe these systems," Professor Smith said.

And what if the ground at Yellowstone does not start to go down? Well, these calderas, he admits, "occasionally they burp". Let's hope the park's belly-ache resolves itself – such a "burp" would shake half of the planet.

**

Yellowstone volcano not ready to blow

 
 
 

Out of 148 American volcanoes, the U.S. Geological Survey ranks Yellowstone's as the 21st biggest threat, Yellowstone Volcano Observatory geologist Hank Heasler said Friday.

Last year, the park experienced 1,202 earthquakes, albeit minor ones. The park's newest safety inspector had to evacuate the office after steam vents shot 4.5 percent carbon monoxide-level gas up through the floor cracks.

Five bison dropped dead in 2004 from toxic gasses emitting from the surface of the park, looking like they had been cow-tipped, Heasler said, speaking to the Wyoming Geological Association at the Petroleum Club.

"You really don't want to use one of these as a canary," he added.

Outbreaks of earthquakes, changes in gas emissions, ground deformations -- they're all signs of a potential volcano eruption, and they've all occurred at Yellowstone National Park, Heasler said.

So the newspaper that ran the headline "VOLCANO DOOM," was dead on?

"So in Yellowstone all these signs are there, right?" Heasler asked, rhetorically.

Yes, but not exactly.

"All these things aren't in the same area," he said.


Heasler told the assembled geologists that his studies at the 2.2-million acre national park show that a catastrophic event like a caldera-forming volcanic eruption is the least likely to happen.

Though many geologic events and indicators happen at Yellowstone -- the world's most active volcanic system -- they aren't happening in such a confined area or at a rate alarming enough to predict that there's going to be a supervolcanic eruption anytime soon, Heasler said.

He told the geologists that data streaming in from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is available on the Internet at {M7http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo.

Contact reporter Cory Matteson at (307) 266-0589 or cory.matteson@casperstartribune.net.

 

 

Faithful to a Fault

The U.S.A.'s oldest national park is always a reliable destination for spectacular scenery

Randall Shirley, Special to the Sun

Published: Saturday, July 28, 2007

Every travel publication has its annual list of "hot spots," as voted by their readers. Randall Shirley learns a classic Western road trip is still the "hottest spot" of all -- as voted by Mother Nature.

Sitting in a spot named the Boiling River forced me to reflect on the past couple of days. Actually, I was sitting in the Gardiner River, where the Boiling River -- and yes, it is almost boiling hot -- flows into the Gardiner's ice cold rapids, making for toasty bathwater conditions along the shore.

Two days earlier I was sitting on a hard plastic bench waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. I could almost feel my butt heat up as a ranger explained that I was sitting above one of the hottest spots on Earth.

A quick glance around, and I knew the man wasn't lying. In almost every direction plumes of steam belched from unseen holes in the earth.

One-hundred metres ahead, the most famous belcher of them all -- a hole atop a small mound of earth -- teased several hundred international tourists with a puff of steam. The crowd stretched half a kilometre on a semicircle of benches around the geyser hole.

"Why isn't Old Faithful erupting now?" a woman asked. "The sign in the visitor's centre said it should be."

From under his classic hat, the ranger gave the crowd a big smile and reminded us that Old Faithful erupts when it wants to. (According to the park's website, it averages every 74 minutes. But the cycle can be as short as 35 minutes, or as long as two hours).

Ten minutes later the faithful old hole blew a few spits before sending a brilliant jet of scalding (95.6 degrees Celsius) water 50 metres into the air, complete with its well-known bulbous cloud of steam, all lasting about three minutes.

Hundreds of feet below, the super-hot guts of the Earth were already in refill mode, faithfully getting ready for another performance in about 74 minutes' time.

Scientists have confirmed the obvious: Yellowstone National Park sits above an incredibly hot pool of magma at a relatively shallow depth. Visitors to the world's first national park (est. 1872) can see -- but never touch -- the planet's largest concentration of geothermal "features." Sky-high geysers are the most famous.

There are also lavishly coloured hot pools, bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and more. Many of the features are within easy walking distance of parking and wheelchair accessible.

You learn about the hot spot's plumbing in the park's excellent visitor centres. The film at the Old Faithful centre should not be missed -- a scientist actually lowers a special camera deep into Old Faithful's spout.

You'll learn the hot spot has been responsible for the two largest volcanic eruptions in North American history, and is still responsible for many small earthquakes each year -- the most recent major quake in 1959. And that the North American tectonic plate is moving slowly to the south-west while the Yellowstone Hot Spot stays put. So, in a very long time, Winnipeg might be the world's geyser capital.

Yellowstone doesn't need human additions and development to proclaim its glory as a traveller's hot spot: within its 898,317-hectare boundaries it jealously guards about 10,000 of the world's geothermal features, including 75 per cent of the world's geysers.

To see most of the others -- many are damaged by human activity -- you'd have to split your time between Iceland, New Zealand, and Russia.

Beginning in the 1950s, a Yellowstone road trip became a required, once-in-a-lifetime experience for most Americans.

On TV, Yogi Bear made friends with Ranger Smith and Smokey Bear (wearing his ranger hat) subliminally reminded every kid that if "only you can prevent forest fires," you needed to actually visit the forest to prove it.

The forest of all forests was Yellowstone -- filled with bears, elk, buffalo, trout streams, a gorgeous canyon of yellow stone, scars from huge natural forest fires, and most exciting of all: geysers.

I was a lucky kid. Long before moving to Canada, I grew up an hour's drive from West Yellowstone, the park's western gate. I could watch Yogi and Boo Boo on a Saturday morning, drive into the forest, catch a show at West Yellowstone's summer stock Playmill

Theatre, and be skinny-dipping in the park's rich geothermal waters by dark. Sadly, those swim-legal hot springs at Madison Junction campground have naturally silted in, and only a few old rangers even remember the spot -- always with a wry wink.

Today the only place you can soak -- safely and legally -- in the park's hot waters is the convergence of the Boiling and Gardiner Rivers.

As kids, we'd be blown away by the variety of licence plates we'd spot in Yellowstone -- proof that the park's appeal was huge.

Today, the variety of plates hasn't changed. I spotted everything from B.C. to Florida, Quebec to California -- proof that despite easy and cheap access to hipper travel destinations, Yellowstone is still hugely popular.

Other than Old Faithful, most tourists will only see a handful of smaller geysers and perhaps a few colourful pools.

The smart and patient take long strolls on the boardwalks through places like Norris Geyser Basin--the park's hottest, Fountain Paint Pots, and especially Upper Geyser Basin near Old Faithful--with its huge assortment of springs, pools, vents, and geysers.

I've walked the latter many times, passing geysers with imaginative names like Castle, Daisy, Riverside, Sawmill, and Grand.

With the exception of Sawmill, each of those geysers erupts on a less-frequent schedule. Signs post the most-likely time for the next eruption--sometimes days away.

On my recent trip I paid attention to a ranger at Old Faithful.

"Find a spot at Grand Geyser this afternoon," he told a small group of keeners, "be there by 3:15, and be prepared to wait until 6:30, or even longer. When Grand erupts, you won't be sorry!"

So, after a stroll past the long-sputtering Grotto geyser and gazing into the colourful depths of Morning Glory Pool, I arrived at Grand a bit late -- 3:45. No worries, about 100 people were hanging out on benches near the geyser hole.

Across the way a pair of yellow-bellied marmots raced around on the hillside, entertaining the crowd. Grand's spout hole remained boringly calm.

I met my bench-mate -- a Montr?al dad travelling with his wife and kids. Yellowstone has been amazing, he told me. The wildlife had been their real highlight, and of course the geysers.

But Grand was testing their patience! He leaned over and reminded his young son to adjust his chapeau so the soleil wouldn't burn his neck.

An hour passed. Then almost another. I started to dream of a cold beer and a burger back at the historic, exquisitely restored, Old Faithful Inn. Or of swimming in the cool waters at Firehole River (not to be missed!).

Suddenly a nearby radio crackled to life. "We have Castle erupting at 5:35!" The crowd jumped and craned our necks right to see Castle in the distance -- some bemoaning missing Castle while waiting for a lazy Grand.

The radio crackled with another voice, "we have Daisy at 5:37!" The crowd craned left to see Daisy's far-off steam. Within seconds the pool in front of us gurgled once, and Grand abruptly blew jets of scalding water 50 metres into the sky--continuing for the next 10 minutes. Small nearby geysers next door began blowing, too. A child's voice blurted out, "Gee, it's geyser o'clock."

The geysers had barely finished when Old Faithful itself -- about a kilometre away -- blew its top. Hundreds of patient travellers' eyes nearly popped.

Each now understood that Yellowstone is as rich an experience for today's globetrotting travellers as it was for yesteryear's infrequent road-trippers.

Soaking in the playful mix of hot and cold currents where the Boiling River joins the Gardiner reminded me one more time that I was still sitting atop one of the earth's hottest spots.

Perhaps 20 metres away a young elk suddenly appeared and crossed the river. And I realized Mother Nature had provided a hot spot that no luxury resort on a magazine's list could touch.

- - -

IF YOU GO ...

All services with street addresses and 406 area codes are in West Yellowstone, Montana.

- GETTING THERE

West Yellowstone is a 14-hour drive from Vancouver, and has seasonal air service on Delta. Closest alternative airports are Bozeman, Montana (144 km), Idaho Falls (160 km), or Jackson, Wyoming (200 km), all with United service (use your Aeroplan miles!). A rental car is almost required, although tour companies in West Yellowstone can arrange van itineraries. Try Buffalo Bus Touring www.yellowstonevacations.com, or Yellowstone Tour & Travel www.yellowstone-travel.com.

- WHERE TO STAY

Old Faithful Inn: at Old Faithful, centre of the park. 1-866-439-7375; www.TravelYellowstone.com. The Inn's 100 year-old rooms have been modernized and historically restored at the same time. The atrium lobby's massive knotty pine construction is unbelievable. Shared bath from $100, ensuite from $125. Reservations required.

Yellowstone Campgrounds: Tent or RV at the park's 11 campgrounds. Five major sites accept reservations via 1-866-439-7375; www.TravelYellowstone.com. Find all the park's campsites at www.nps.gov/yell.

West Yellowstone: 406-646-7701; www.westyellowstonechamber.com. This tourist support town is filled with all manner of motels.

- WHERE TO EAT

Huckleberry Ice Cream: Not the name of a shop, but a glorious flavour in ice cream spots around the region.

Old Faithful Inn Dining Room: 307-344-7311. Do lunch here. The room is beautifully restored, and lunch is only a buck or two above the nearby snack bar's prices.

Wild West Pizza: 14 Madison Ave.; 406-646-4400. West Yellowstone's best.

Bullwinkle's Saloon & Eatery: 19 Madison Ave.; 406-646-7974. Steaks and big dinners.

Book Peddler Coffee 106 Canyon Ave.; 406-646-9358. Head through the excellent bookstore to find the coffee bar.

- THINGS TO DO

Ranger Walks & Talks. Learn on the many ranger walks and talks (often in the evening near campgrounds) throughout Yellowstone -- all free. Find schedules at www.nps.gov/yell.

Swim: Firehole River (cold water, fun). Boiling River, near Mammoth, is the only place in Yellowstone where you can legally enjoy the natural hot water, because it mixes with a cold river. You're at your own risk in either place, and should always consult with a ranger before swimming.

Summer Theatre: 29 Madison Ave., 406-646-7757; www.playmill.com. West Yellowstone's Playmill Theatre offers down-home fun -- even when presenting Broadway musicals. Always a good laugh; reservations required.

Organized tours. Xanterra resorts (which runs most of Yellowstone's hotels, restaurants, and camping) offers many tours www.TravelYellowstone.com. The non-profit Yellowstone Association Institute offers field seminars, backcountry courses, and more www.YellowstoneAssociation.org.

- - -

Yellowstone Supervolcano Making Strange Rumblings

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Supervolcanoes can sleep for centuries or millennia before producing incredibly massive eruptions that can drop ash across an entire continent.

One of the largest supervolcanoes in the world lies beneath Yellowstone National Park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Though the Yellowstone system is active and expected to eventually blow its top, scientists don't think it will erupt any time soon.

Yet significant activity continues beneath the surface. And the activity has been increasing lately, scientists have discovered. In addition, the nearby Teton Range of mountains, in a total surprise, is getting shorter.

The findings, reported this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research — Solid Earth, suggest that a slow and gradual movement of a volcano over time can shape a landscape more than a violent eruption.

For the past 17 years, researchers used Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to monitor the horizontal and vertical motion of the Yellowstone caldera — a huge volcanic crater formed by a super-eruption more than 600,000 years ago.

The movement of the caldera indicates what's going on underground where magma, or molten rock, is stored for the next eruption.

When magma builds up, some of it starts to rise toward the surface, where it presses against the floor of the caldera. The pressure makes the caldera bulge, while a decrease in pressure makes it sink.

The 45-by-30-mile caldera bulged and deflated significantly during the study period, resulting in a series of small earthquakes that produced 10 times more energy than would occur if the ground were to move suddenly in a large eruption.

"We think it's a combination of magma being intruded under the caldera and hot water released from the magma being pressurized because it's trapped," said lead study author Robert Smith from the University of Utah. "I don't believe this is evidence for an impending volcanic eruption, but it would be prudent to keep monitoring the volcano."

More energy

The data shows that the caldera floor sank 4.4 inches from 1987 until 1995. From 1995 until 2000, the northwest rim of the caldera rose about 3 inches, followed by another 1.4-inch rise until 2003. Then between 2000 and 2003, the caldera floor sank a little more than an inch.

And then from 2004 to 2006 the central caldera floor rose faster than ever, springing up nearly 7 inches during the three-year span.

"The rate is unprecedented, at least in terms of what scientists have been able to observe in Yellowstone," Smith said.

Abnormal fault

These results could explain another surprise finding: The ground along the Teton fault — an active fault running 40 miles north-south along the eastern base of the Teton Range in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming just south of Yellowstone — moves in the opposite direction compared to what's been previously thought.

Typically, when a big earthquake takes place on a normal fault such as the Teton, the ground is pulled apart.

This kind of extension or stretching causes valleys to drop downward and mountains to rise upwards. Thousands of earthquakes over millions of years built the mountains that comprise the Teton Range today.

But recent measurements showed a different trend.

Researchers found that just the opposite is happening with Jackson Hole — the valley below the Teton. The valley is rising up slowly and the mountains are dropping down.

What the researchers think is happening, on a short-term basis at least, is that the bulging Yellowstone hotspot north of the Tetons is pushing against the north edge of Jackson Hole and jamming it against the mountains.

(This is also causing the southwest part of the Yellowstone plateau, under the hotspot, to slide downhill at a rate of one-sixth of an inch each year.)

"The textbook model for a normal fault is not what's happening at the Teton fault," Smith said. "The mountains are going down relative to the valley going up. That's a total surprise."

This motion, according to researchers, is also expected to produce bigger quakes, confusing the picture of how earthquakes occur in that area.

Copyright © 2006 Imaginova Corp. All Rights Reserved.

 

Yellowstone hot spot has wide effect
3-4-07
Scientists studying the giant volcanic hot spot beneath Yellowstone National Park said Thursday that even when the hot spot is inactive, it exerts energy that shapes the landscape 150 miles away.

The findings from the University of Utah defy long-standing beliefs that earthquakes triggered by volcanic activity account for most of the landscape deformations related to Yellowstone's hot spot, a volcanic plume more than 300 miles wide located deep beneath the earth's surface.

Instead, much of the deformations were traced to more constant pressures coming from the plume, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics and one of the authors of the study.

Smith said the results, which came out of a broader $2.3 million study of Yellowstone's geophysics, could help in forecasting future earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Using satellite data to measure movements of the earth's crust over the past 17 years, Smith and his colleagues found that the earth's surface was stretching by up to 4 millimeters a year due to energy released by the hot spot. They also found that a giant crater located above the hot spot - the Yellowstone caldera - rises and falls without always triggering eruptions.

"The energy that goes into deforming the ground is much greater than the earthquakes," said Christine Puskas, the lead author of the study. "Regional deformation even is being experienced as far as the Snake River Valley in Idaho."

The study is to be published Friday in the Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth.

Copyright © 2007 Associated Press.

 

 

Jan 24, 2007 9:56 pm US/Mountain

Small Earthquakes Shake Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. A series of small earthquakes shook the Old Faithful area but caused no damage.

The quakes occurred just before midnight Monday.

“It woke up a lot of people,” said Henry Heasler, Yellowstone’s lead geologist.

In all, seven earthquakes were recorded over a 10-minute period. The epicenter was southwest of Lone Star geyser, which is about four miles southeast of Old Faithful.

The first and largest quake measured at a magnitude of 2.8 and started at 11:52 p.m. A minute later, a magnitude 2.3 earthquake hit and, four minutes later, there was a magnitude 2.5 earthquake. Several other smaller ones also were recorded.

An interpretive ranger at Old Faithful heard the quakes and felt the shaking, Heasler said.

On Oct. 14, a swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes hit the Old Faithful area over several hours. The largest was a magnitude 2.4.

Heasler said earthquake swarms are not unusual for Yellowstone’s active geologic life.

(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

  Saturday, December 16, 2006

Yellowstone lava domes swelling fast

Associated Press

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - A geologist says some parts of the continually shifting, collapsed volcano at the center of the park are swelling unusually fast.

Bob Smith, one of the leading researchers into Yellowstone's geology, presented some of his findings at the American Geological Union meeting in San Francisco this week.

Smith and other geologists from the University of Utah are particularly interested in two subterranean lava domes deep beneath the Yellowstone caldera.

"We've gone to this really pronounced, and I would say unprecedented, uplift of the caldera," he said.

Using data collected on the ground and from satellites, scientists say the Mallard Lake Dome, west of Yellowstone Lake's West Thumb, has risen 4 centimeters a year since the middle of 2004. Meanwhile, the Sour Creek Dome north of Fishing Bridge has risen about 6 centimeters a year.

Smith said an infusion of magma may be heating up groundwater and causing the ground to bulge.

"It's like inflating the balloon, but the balloon is capped," he said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved

 

Quake storm hits Yellowstone

October 28, 2006

 
 
[oas:casperstartribune.net/news/wyoming:Middle1]

Lee News Service

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes shook the ground earlier this month near Yellowstone National Park's Old Faithful geyser.

The largest was a magnitude 2.4, barely enough to be felt. The swarm of 74 quakes lasted several hours Oct. 14, according to recently released information from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

The tight cluster of earthquakes was moderate compared with others in Yellowstone's past, including in April 2004, when more than 400 earthquakes were recorded over three days.

"It piques our curiosity, but it's not out of the range of normal behavior," Henry Heasler, Yellowstone's principal geologist, said of the latest set of earthquakes.

On most days in Yellowstone, there are between one and 20 earthquakes recorded. Several times a year, there are swarms of earthquakes that show up on a network of instruments spread through the park.

The clusters of earthquakes are likely not caused by the migration of magma but may be related to the underground movement of hot water and gas, according to park officials.

On Oct. 14, dozens of small earthquakes were picked up at a monitoring station about seven miles northwest of Old Faithful. Between Oct. 10 and Oct. 19, 87 earthquakes were recorded in that area.

The largest swarm recorded in Yellowstone was in the fall of 1985 when about 1,800 earthquakes, ranging in magnitude from 1 to 4.9, shook the park. It roughly coincided with a change in the huge caldera at the center of Yellowstone. Around that time, the caldera stopped slowly rising and began slowly falling.


 

Study shows ground-level ozone increasing at Yellowstone

May 31, 2006

BILLINGS, Mont. A new Park Service study shows air quality in four of six categories is worsening at Yellowstone National Park.

The study compiled air-quality trends dating back to 1995 at national parks across the country.

One pollutant on the rise in Yellowstone is ground-level ozone, which can cause respiratory problems and threaten plant health.

But the Park Service says the levels in Yellowstone aren't high enough to pose a risk and don't exceed any national standards.

Still, Yellowstone had more categories in which air quality was getting worse than any other park in the country.

Other air-quality categories that worsened at Yellowstone were ammonium, sulfates and nitrates. Two categories measuring visibility showed improvements.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved


Small earthquake reported in south area of Yellowstone

May 20, 2006

By The Associated Press

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK -- An early morning earthquake -- the strongest in the park this year -- barely rattled anyone from their slumber in southern Yellowstone this week, the park geologist said Friday.

The magnitude 3.8 earthquake occurred at 4:16 a.m. Thursday, and several employees near the park's southern entrance reported feeling it, Hank Heasler said. One person told him about moderate shaking in a trailer, though nothing was knocked over, and another reported waking up around that time, but not knowing why, Heasler said.

A park spokesman said there were no reports of damage from the quake, which was roughly 20 miles southeast of West Thumb, and 31 miles southeast of Old Faithful. Heasler said there was nothing to indicate it was a precursor to a bigger event.

Earthquakes in Yellowstone aren't uncommon. The area is the one of the most seismically active in the continental United States, and hundreds, if not thousands, of quakes
occur here each year, Heasler said. Heasler defined the Yellowstone area as the park and a roughly 10-mile zone beyond it.

It's distribution, not numbers, that catch officials' attention, he said.

"If they were all in one area or over a day, that would get us excited," he said.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 
3-D Images Reveal Yellowstone Plume
By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

May 19, 2006 —  Researchers have captured three-dimensional images of the gigantic plume of molten rock welling up from the depths of the Earth under Yellowstone National Park.

Using seismic tomographic imaging, which pieces together data from scores of seismic stations around Yellowstone, geologists have created a 3-D image showing where the rock has melted to become magma. The magma reveals itself to seismologists because it slows down seismic waves from distant earthquakes that pass through it.

"This result is from a focused study deploying a dense array of 80 seismographs around Yellowstone," reports Robert Smith, a Yellowstone geologist at the University of Utah.

The seismographs were installed from 2000 to 2002, explicitly to look for such a plume under the park. The results were published in the April issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Map of Yellowstone Region

The Yellowstone/Eastern Snake River Plain volcanic system, showing earthquake epicenters with black circles. Massive plumes of molten rock lie beneath the surface.

The multi-million-year-old plume is the source of heat that caused a series of giant eruptions at Yellowstone, the last one 600,000 years ago. There is no evidence another eruption is on the way.

Oddly enough, the image shows the plume does not rise from the Earth’s core-mantle boundary at 1,700 miles (2,700 km) down.

Instead, the column of magma appears out of nowhere some 310 to 400 miles (500-650 km) down, under the Montana-Idaho border northwest of Yellowstone National Park. From there it tilts to the southeast as it rises through the mantle until it’s directly under Yellowstone. 

Smith explains the tilt is probably caused by a "wind" or current in the mantle through which the plume is rising. But just what melted the rock 310 to 400 miles down remains a big unknown, said geologist Eugene Humphreys of the University of Oregon.

"It’s tilted, which is interesting," said Humphreys. But how it got that hot, he said, "is still a mystery."

A clue might be found to the northwest, a region with 40,000 cubic miles of volcanic Columbia River Flood Basalts. That rock poured out of the earth to cover parts of Idaho, Oregon and Washington at the same time the Yellowstone plume was melting the crust and making a series of earlier "Yellowstones" in a line to the southwest from today’s Yellowstone, all the way to Nevada.

Because the North American plate is still moving southwest at Yellowstone and the plume shows no sign of abating, the next place to erupt would most likely be to the north of the par

In fact, some researchers have already found evidence that the switch is underway – although no mega-eruptions are due anytime within the next million years.

Feature: What's Under Yellowstone?

Old Supervolcanoes Give Yellowstone Clues

Acid-Loving Life Found in Yellowstone


Utah officials not confident public informed about Nevada test

By JENNIFER TALHELM
ASSOCIATED PRESS

April 29, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of Utah's congressional delegation said they're not satisfied that the government has provided enough information about the safety of its plans to detonate a 700-ton explosive in the Nevada desert.

Congressional aides on Wednesday toured the site where the non-nuclear explosion - called "Divine Strake" - will take place, and they grilled federal officials about plans for the June 2 test.

Utah residents and officials are concerned that the resulting mushroom cloud will shake loose radioactive soil from past nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Utah officials said Thursday they want the government to do more to convince them that the test should go forward.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Energy Department to hold a public briefing for southern Utah residents.

"I'm not confident the public has enough information about this," Hatch said in a statement Thursday. "My staff learned safety details from test officials that could have helped the public if they had been released long ago, and the good people downwind of the site need to hear them."

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, still is waiting for information about whether Divine Strake is an indication that the government might again build new nuclear weapons and test them in Nevada.

Matheson said Pentagon budget documents, other materials and even recent interviews with officials mention plans for new nuclear weapons. He and others are concerned that the June 2 test is in preparation for a low-yield nuclear bomb.

A letter he sent to the agency on April 7 asking about its nuclear plans and other concerns is still unanswered, he said.

"The information from yesterday's briefing is not reassuring," he said in a statement Thursday.

While Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, believes every precaution is being taken to ensure the test is done safely, he wants a personal briefing from the National Nuclear Security Administration, his spokeswoman MaryJane Collipriest said.

"This personal briefing will help him determine whether the test should proceed," she said.

Cheri Abdelnour, a spokeswoman for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said she could not immediately respond to specific questions about the Utah officials' concerns.

She said the test will help the agency design a more effective conventional weapon to penetrate hard and deeply buried targets.

The agency has said its environmental assessment determined the explosion should not disturb surface contamination at the Test Site.

But Hatch and others have said officials have done a poor job communicating that to Utah residents downwind of the site, who are still suffering illnesses resulting from their exposure to Cold War-era nuclear tests.

Hatch also still wants more information about the underground effects of the explosion, his spokesman Peter Carr said.

His office has raised concerns about inconsistencies in information from the government about the distance between the Divine Strake explosion site and where previous underground nuclear weapons tests took place.

"I don't want any testing to harm Utahns again, and I'm still concerned about a bomb test so near to past nuclear test sites," Hatch said. "I'm skeptical about taking the word of test officials, given what happened during the last nuclear tests. We'll also take a look at some outside data and expertise, too, before deciding if this test can be conducted safely."

 

Test blast linked to nuke weapons

By LAUNCE RAKE
Las Vegas Sun
28-APR-06

LAS VEGAS -- Contrary to the Pentagon's earlier denials, a government official overseeing a test explosion at the Nevada Test Site in June says the blast could help with the development of nuclear weapons.

The detonation could simulate "a number of weapon concepts," said Doug Bruder, director of the counter-weapons of mass destruction program for the Defense Department's Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

"It could be nuclear or advanced conventional," he said. "A charge of this size would be more related to a nuclear weapon."

Bruder made his remarks during a tour of the Test Site with reporters this week.

The purpose of the test remains an issue in Washington and Nevada as the Defense Department continues to prepare the site for a June 2 blast of 700 tons of conventional explosives.

The Pentagon has denied that the test is intended to aid research into "bunker buster" nuclear weapons _ essentially smaller-scale weapons designed to penetrate and destroy facilities built deep below ground.

In keeping with those earlier denials, Bruder said the blast, known as Divine Strake, was not specifically designed to produce a nuclear weapon and "does not replicate any existing or planned nuclear weapon."

As part of the test, researchers plan to measure the damage the blast does to a tunnel dug beneath the explosion site. Those results will help the Pentagon determine the effectiveness of an explosion of that magnitude, whether produced by a conventional or a nuclear weapon.

Last year, Congress forbade any testing intended to advance nuclear weapons. Lawmakers cut funding from the Energy Department's budget for a 700-ton explosion at the Test Site for use in developing a nuclear bunker buster.

Money for the test is now in the Defense Department budget for a conventional weapons program.

Scientists and others opposed to nuclear proliferation have said that the new test is simply an attempt to defy the congressional ban and advance Defense Department research into nuclear weapons.

The blast itself would be with a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the same material that brought down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The amount that destroyed the office building was 2.5 tons.

The size of the June 2 bomb is among the evidence scientists cite in arguing that the test could only serve to advance nuclear weapons research. The U.S. military has no way to deliver a 700-ton conventional bomb to a target, other than to truck it into place.

Officials have emphasized that no nuclear materials would be involved in the test, although a group including the Western Shoshone and residents downwind of past nuclear explosions at the Test Site are suing, arguing that the test could kick up radioactive dust. Government officials insist there is no possibility that radioactive materials would be disturbed by the blast.

But Bruder's comments fanned the debate anew.

After watching a CNN tape of remarks by Bruder, Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat who represents southwestern Utah, issued a statement Thursday saying: "Officials who say they are using this Divine Strake test in planning for new nuclear weapons seem to be ignoring congressional intent about no new nuclear weapons, and that concerns me."

On the CNN tape, Bruder said: "There are some very hard targets out there and right now it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to defeat with current conventional weapons. Therefore there are some that would probably require nuclear weapons."

Matheson said that he supports development of conventional bunker-busting bombs, but not a nuclear program. "We need to build something that actually defeats the threat without harming our soldiers and innocent civilians," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said in the past that he does not oppose the test. The Nevada Democrat said he reached that conclusion after he and others in the state's congressional delegation were assured by James Tegnelia, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, that the test had nothing to do with development of a nuclear device.

On Thursday, Reid spokeswoman Sharyn Stein said the senator continues to support the test as a prelude to a conventional weapon. Reid supports development of a conventional bunker buster as an important tool for national security, she said.

"I realize his (Tegnelia's) people seem to be dancing around that right now, and we're not thrilled about that," Stein said. But Tegnelia personally promised Reid that the test will not lead to resumed nuclear testing, she said.

(Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, http://www.shns.com.)

--

From: "Sorcha Faal" <sorchafaal@fastmail.fm>
To: sorchafaal@fastmail.fm
Subject: United States Plans World’s Largest Explosion In ...
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 22:37:17 +0400

[Ed. Note: This report should be read from its website location at 
http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index895.htm as this email copy does not
contain the links embedded in the original report.]


March 31, 2006

United States Plans World’s Largest Explosion In Desperate Measure To Halt Catastrophic 
Yellowstone Volcanic Eruption By Sacrificing California 

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Russian Subscribers

Russian Military Analysts are reporting today that they have received an urgent communiqué 
from the United States Pentagon that during the first week of June they will be detonating 
the World’s largest known conventional explosion in one of their most seismically active 
Regions, the State of Nevada, and as we also as being confirmed by the Associated Press News
Service in their article titled "US to test 700-tonne explosive", and which says:

"The US military plans to detonate a 700 tonne explosive charge in a test called "Divine 
Strake" that will send a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas, a senior defense official said. 
 "I don't want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you'll see a 
mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons," said James 
Tegnelia, head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency."

Russian Geologists upon studying this extraordinary United States communiqué dispute the 
reasons given by the American Military Government for this massive explosion being needed 
for the testing of ‘bunker busting’ bomb technology.  One of these reports states that this 
massive explosion is intended to relieve the Massive Tectonic pressure upon the North 
American Plate and which is now threatening to activate the Yellowstone Super Volcano, 
and of which we can read as reported by the Fox News Service in their article titled 
"Giant Volcano Under Yellowstone Park Stirring to Life", and which says:

"Forces brewing deep beneath Yellowstone National Park could be making one of the largest 
volcanoes on Earth even bigger, a new study reveals.

In the past decade, part of the volcano has risen nearly five inches,most likely due to a 
backup of flowing molten rock miles below the planet's crust. While the rise may not be 
noticeable to the casual hiker, the activity may have cracked the crust in the park's 
famous Norris Geyser Basin (NGB), leading to the formation of new fumaroles — holes that 
vent smoke and gas — and the reawakening of some of the area's geysers, including Steamboat,
the largest geyser in the world."

Of even greater concern to the United States are the recent scientific studies of the Great 
Sumatra Earthquake as they have shown that the Western Regions of America are at much 
greater risk than previously believed, and as we can read as reported by Physorg.Com News 
Service in their article titled "Sumatra megaquake defied theory", and which says:

"The risks of Sumatra-style mega-quakes around the world have been sorely misjudged, say 
earth scientists who are re-examining some of the pre-December 2004 assumptions scientists 
made about such rare events. For more than two decades geologists had thought that the 
largest quakes, of magnitude 9 and greater, happen when a young tectonic plate is subducted,
or shoved quickly, under another plate. But the Great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of 
26 December 2004 didn't match that pattern at all. The Indian Plate is middle-aged and 
moving at a middling rate, which throws into question the estimated quake dangers at other 
similar quake-prone zones near Japan, in the Pacific Northwest, Chile, Alaska, and elsewhere. 

Previous to the catastrophic 26 December 2004 earthquake, the theory about how subduction 
zones generate quakes was straightforward, says Okal. It boiled down to age and speed. 
Where an older, colder and therefore denser slab of crust is being pushed slowly under 
another plate, "It will want to sink," he said. As a result there's not a lot of stress
building up to cause large quakes. At the other end of that same spectrum are subduction 
zones where young, buoyant crust is being forced quickly under another plate. The rate of 
"convergence" and the fact that the young crust resists sinking causes lots of stress to 
build up and results in much larger quakes. 

"So you could take a map of all the subduction zones of the world and look at it," said Okal.
 "The red areas were ones with younger, faster moving crust and the blue areas were older, 
slow moving crust." The theory seemed tidy enough and could be verified somewhat by dating 
the crust, measuring the rates entire tectonic plates seemed to be moving at, and estimating 
the power of past quakes from historical accounts.According to the theory, the Sumatra 
subduction zone was capable of no more than a magnitude 8 earthquake, Okal explains. "The 
cold shower we got was Sumatra," said Okal. "We have a 9.3 on our hands. You got a point
that violates the plan outrageously."

But perhaps to potentially the greatest catastrophe this Massive Explosion could cause would 
be the sacrificing of the State of California as the Tectonic Forces on the North American 
Plate would then, should this American plan work, be ‘transferred’ from Yellowstone to the
thousands of fault lines throughout that State.  Dr. Scientist Adushkin has further stated 
in these reports that this Massive Explosion could actually produce the opposite effect of 
what the American Scientists are attempting to achieve by not only triggering catastrophic
earthquakes in California, but also accelerating the Volcanic activity in both Yellowstone 
and the North American Pacific Northwest Regions.

For whatever the final results from this Massive Explosion might be it is not to our knowing.
 But to the greater catastrophic dangers facing those peoples in the Western Regions of the 
United States and Canada it can be said that the sooner they are evacuated from these areas 
the greater number of them could be saved.  

© March 31, 2006 EU and US all rights reserved.
http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index895.htm
-- 
  Sorcha Faal
  sorchafaal@fastmail.fm

 

Minor earthquake felt in southwestern Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.6 earthquake Saturday evening, which was felt by residents around southwest Montana, as well as in Idaho and Wyoming.

The quake, at 8:25 p.m. MDT, was centered about 35 miles east of Lima and 40 miles west of West Yellowstone.

It was felt by residents in Lima, Virginia City, West Yellowstone, as far away as Helena as well as in Ashton and St. Anthony in Idaho and Jackson and Wilson in Wyoming, according to reports submitted to the USGS Web site Saturday night.

The National Weather Service said no damage was immediately reported

Feb. 4, 2006, 11:33PM
Minor Quake Rattles Southwestern Montana

HELENA, Mont. — A minor earthquake rattled parts of southwestern Montana Saturday evening.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a temblor with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6, which was felt by residents around southwest Montana, as well as in Idaho and Wyoming.

The quake, at 8:25 p.m. MDT, was centered about 35 miles east of Lima and 40 miles west of West Yellowstone. The National Weather Service said no damage was immediately reported.

It was felt by residents in Lima, Virginia City, West Yellowstone, and as far away as Helena. Residents in Ashton and St. Anthony in Idaho and Jackson and Wilson in Wyoming also felt the quake, according to reports submitted to the U.S.G.S. Web site.

The quake was reported in an area that has been rumbling since a magnitude 5.6 earthquake was reported 13 miles northwest of Dillon on July 25.

___

On the Net:

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/


Publish Date: 8/12/2005

Local fault line long dormant
Past earthquakes that were felt here were centered elsewhere in region

By Ann Depperschmidt
The Daily Reporter-Herald

Delbert Roller had leaned his ladder against the wall to patch a few holes in the walls on the fourth floor at First National Bank.

“I reached for the wall, and it moved away from me,” the 91-year-old Loveland resident said this week, remembering the 1984 Wyoming earthquake that sent tremors through Loveland.

“I really thought the building was falling down.”

On Wednesday, an earthquake measuring magnitude 4.9 struck near the New Mexico-Colorado border. Those vibrations weren’t felt in Loveland.

Though earthquakes are more common in Southern Colorado than Northern Colorado, the recent temblor raises the question, can it happen here?

After all, Mariana Butte Golf Course rests on an ancient fault line.

Eric Erslev, a geology professor at Colorado State University, said a number of fault lines extend from the Rio Grande Rift, which runs from central Colorado to Mexico, into Northern Colorado.

The area from Horsetooth Reservoir south to Mariana Butte Golf Course is on an ancient fault line called the Milner Mountain Fault that hasn’t been active in 40 million years, Erslev said.

John Minsch, a geophysicist from the U.S. Geological Survey, said an earthquake has never been recorded in Loveland. But if this area does feel a tremor, it would most likely come from a quake in Wyoming or the Denver area, he said.

In 1882, an earthquake struck about 20 miles west of Estes Park. According to U.S. Geological Survey, the tremor caused plaster to fall from walls at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

People in Salina, Kan., and Salt Lake City, Utah, also felt the rumble.

In the early 1960s, a series of quakes occurred in the Denver area that extended as far north as Laramie, Wyo., after workers from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal northeast of Denver pumped waste into a well. The pumping basically lubricated the faults, Erslev said.

The Army removed the waste in 1968.

In 1981, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake struck the Denver-Thornton area, sending shocks to Weld County.

And in October 1984, while Roller patched holes inside the Loveland bank — now Chase Bank — a magnitude 5.5 earthquake centered about 40 miles southeast of Casper, Wyo., sent tremors south to the Front Range.

No injuries or damage were reported, but people said coffee spilled out of their cups, bookcases swayed, pictures tilted and papers fell off desks.

“It shook the building pretty good,” said Roller, who has lived in Loveland since 1976. “I’ve never been anywhere where there was an earthquake before.”


Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Yellowstone geologist discusses supervolcano threat

CODY, WYO. -- Could a basalt flow erupt from Yellowstone National Park without warning? Yes, says geologist Henry "Hank" Heasler.

Could a Mount St. Helens-size eruption take scientists by surprise? No. Nor could an earth-destroying catastrophic supervolcano like the one in a recent BBC-Discovery Channel docudrama about Yellowstone, Heasler told a standing room-only crowd Tuesday.

"The bigger eruptions are, the more indications we have," said Heasler, a Powell native. "We would see a catastrophic event months to years before it would occur."

Technology is making the prediction of eruptions easier than ever in one of the world's greatest laboratories - Yellowstone National Park. Three-dimensional imagery of the "lava-lamplike blebs" under Norris geyser basin gives geologists a picture of what's bubbling beneath the surface.

To help monitor the park's volcanic activity, a 25th seismic station will be added this year. More aerial work and satellite imagery is planned for this fall. The number of GPS stations around Mary's Bay and West Thumb will double.

Meanwhile, the temperatures of 40 of the park's 10,000 geothermal features are constantly watched.

"We are trying to monitor closely," Heasler said during a presentation Tuesday at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center's Coe Auditorium.

For geologists, Yellowstone holds many anomalies that aren't fully understood, he said.

"The words you say most as a scientist in Yellowstone are 'I don't know,' " Heasler said.

Interest is surging in Yellowstone geology, even though most people believe the made-for-television "Supervolcano" was just another disaster movie, Heasler said.

"Instead of saying 'I don't know and I don't care,' people are now saying 'I don't know and I'm curious,' " Heasler said.

The movie was based on the Huckleberry Ridge eruptions that scientists believe happened 2.1 million years ago in the park. Since then, Yellowstone has seen two other catastrophic eruptions - one 1.3 million years ago and another 640,000 years ago.

One of these is 6,000 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption. Heasler illustrates this using a financial analogy.

"Most of us have written a check for $1,000. Six thousand times that is $6 million. I don't think many of us will ever cut a check for that amount."

But this is a "low frequency" possibility and "geologically, we don't know when another would happen, if ever," Heasler said.

On a day-to-day basis, Heasler is more concerned with keeping people safe from the existing geothermal dangers and monitoring the dynamic park's constant changes. The park had 1,293 earthquakes last year. There were 130 just during this past June. People don't even notice most of them, and the activity is considered normal.

He also keeps an eye out for the telltale signs of bigger doings: earthquake swarms and dramatic surges in ground deformation, gas emissions, steam explosions and hydrothermal activity.

All of these happened in Yellowstone in the past decade, but they haven't been in the same place, Heasler said.

"These need to be in the same area to signify a big eruption," Heasler said.

He also will work with local and state Homeland Security Offices in preparing a Volcano Hazard Plan in the next year or so.

"If something was to occur, there's no way the park would be able to handle everything," Heasler told Park County Homeland Security Coordinator Alex Gisoldi. "We would need your expertise."


 

April 2005 Yellowstone Seismicity Summary

During the month of April 2005, 82 earthquakes were located in the Yellowstone region. 
The largest of these shocks was a magnitude 2.4 on April 2, 2005 at 2:18 AM MST, 
located about 4.9 miles northwest of West Yellowstone, Montana. 

http://story.news.yahoo
com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1894&e=3&u=/ap/20050507/ap_on_sc/yellowstone_volcano_hreat


Yellowstone Rated High for Eruption Threat


YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - The Yellowstone caldera has been classified a high threat for volcanic eruption, according to a report from the     U.S. Geological Survey.

Yellowstone ranks 21st most dangerous of the 169 volcano centers in the United States, according to the Geological Survey's first-ever comprehensive review of the nation's volcanoes.

Kilauea in Hawaii received the highest overall threat score followed by Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainer in Washington, Mount Hood in Oregon and Mount Shasta in California.

Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. Mount St. Helens, which erupted catastrophically in 1980, began venting again in 2004.

Those volcanoes fall within the very high threat group, which includes 18 systems. Yellowstone is classified with 36 others as high threat.

Recurring earthquake swarms, swelling and falling ground, and changes in hydrothermal features are cited in the report as evidence of unrest at Yellowstone.

The report calls for better monitoring of the 55 volcanoes in the very high and high threat categories to track seismic activity, ground bulging, gas emissions and hydrologic changes.

University of Utah geology professor Robert Smith, who monitors earthquakes and volcanic activity in Yellowstone, said more real-time monitoring should be helpful.

"We've really been stressing over the last couple of years that the USGS should consider hazards as a very high priority in their future," he said. We need to get the public's confidence and the perception that we're doing it right."


The university has joined the Geological Survey and Yellowstone National Park in creating the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which uses ground-based instruments throughout the region and satellite data to monitor
volcanic and earthquake unrest in the world's first national park.

The USGS report recognizes Yellowstone as an unusual hazard because of the millions of people who visit the park and walk amid features created by North America's largest volcanic system, Smith said, a status he has been advocating for years.

Smith does not paint the devastating picture portrayed in a recent TV docudrama but said smaller threats exist. For example, a lower-scale hydrothermal blast could scald tourists strolling along boardwalks.

Emissions of toxic gases from the park's geothermal features also pose a threat. Five bison dropped dead last year after inhaling poisonous gases trapped near the ground due to cold, calm weather near Norris Geyser Basin.

Stepped up monitoring and a new 24-hour watch office could lead to more timely warnings and help avoid human catastrophes at Yellowstone and nationally, according to the USGS.

Forty-five eruptions, including 15 cases of notable volcanic unrest, have been documented at 33 volcanoes in the U.S. since 1980, according to the report, released April 29, 2005.

____

On the Net:

U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.usgs.gov

Volcano Threat Report: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1164

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/index.html

 


 

Professor says findings confirm Yellowstone's fiery geothermal network

By MIKE STARK - Billings Gazette Staff - 4/25/05

Ken Dueker knows he won't end the debate about what drives the roiling volcanic system beneath Yellowstone National Park. But he may move it ahead.

Dueker, an assistant geology professor at the University of Wyoming, and a team of researchers say they have confirmed the existence of a long column of hot rock that originates 300 miles beneath Yellowstone's surface.

Evidence of the ‘‘mantle plume'' — which stretches 60 miles in diameter — supports the long-running idea that Yellowstone's fiery geothermal network is fueled by a pipe of magma rising from deep within the Earth, Dueker said.

The findings, set to be published next month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, are the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute among scientists about the existence of deep plumes of hot rocks that play a key role in places like Yellowstone, Iceland and Hawaii.

The newest work by Dueker and others used a technique called ‘‘seismic tomography,'' which uses instruments to track earthquake waves as they travel through the Earth. The waves change as they enter material that is hotter. Scientists used those changes to map what they think is happening beneath Yellowstone.

Dueker and his team used 48 seismic stations scattered around Yellowstone, including some near Billings, Missoula, Pocatello, Idaho, and Riverton, Wyo.

During 2000 and 2001, they said they collected data that, among other things, showed a narrow pipe of hot rock extending 300 miles below Yellowstone's surface. The plume tilts at about 15 degrees so the bottom is beneath Dillon, Dueker said.

The findings should help tell the story about how Yellowstone works and further the debate about plumes beneath places like the first national park.

‘‘The weight of the evidence is going to show there are some plumes,'' Dueker said.

Several years ago, some scientists said they had evidence that contradicted at least 30 years of theory about deep plumes and the creation of volcanic features at Yellowstone and elsewhere on the planet.

Instead of deep plumes, they said volcanoes and other features could be driven by a shallow skin of magma beneath the Earth's crust. As continental plates shift and stretch, the magma bubbles up to filled in the gaps, they said.

Those studies ignited a debate that has fractured the scientific community, with some scientists siding with the older plume theory and others putting their support behind the shallow magma theory.

Dueker said the latest research, which included research at the universities of Wyoming, Utah and Oregon, is more definitive because of the large amount of data that was collected.

‘‘I still admit there's a 10 percent probability that we could be fooled,'' Dueker said. ‘‘But we'd really have to be fooled.''


 

Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 
Experts weigh supervolcano risks
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter

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The drama imagines what a super-eruption at Yellowstone would be like
We don't want to be sensationalist about this, but it's going to happen
Prof Stephen Self, Open University
Geologists have called for a taskforce to be set up to consider emergency management in the event of a massive volcanic eruption, or super-eruption.

The recommendation comes in a report timed to coincide with a BBC TV drama that depicts a fictional super-eruption at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, US.

Experts say such an event would have a colossal impact on a global scale.

A super-eruption is also five to 10 times more likely to happen than an asteroid impact, the report claims.

The authors want to highlight the issue, which they feel is being ignored by governments. They emphasise that while catastrophic eruptions of this kind are rare in terms of a human lifetime, they are surprisingly common on a geological scale.

The effects, say the authors, "could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilisation" - putting events such as the Asian tsunami into the shade.

The fallout from a super-eruption could cause a "volcanic winter", devastating global agriculture and causing mass starvation.

High frequency

It would have a similar effect to a 1.5km-diameter space rock striking Earth, they claim.

But while impacts of this type are estimated to occur once every 400-500,000 years, the frequency of equivalent super-eruptions is about once every 100,000 years.

"These are minimum estimates. Super-eruptions could be even more frequent; we just don't know," said Professor Stephen Self, a geologist at the Open University in Milton Keynes and a member of the working group that produced the report.
Mount Pinatubo, USGS
The Mount Pinatubo eruption was the biggest recorded in photos

"We still have a lot of unassessed regions of the world. The US is the place where we see the largest number of super-eruptions. But that may be because more work has been done there."

One past super-eruption struck at Toba in Sumatra 74,000 years ago and is thought by some to have driven the human race to the edge of extinction. Signs from DNA suggest human numbers could have dropped to about 10,000, probably as a result of the effects of climate change.

The TV drama, called Supervolcano, sticks closely to scientific understanding of these events.

The plot revolves around a series of violent eruptions at Yellowstone in Wyoming that send thousands of cubic kilometres of rock, gas and ash spiralling up in cloud that rains down over three-quarters of the United States.

Contingency plans

Highways become blocked with cars as millions flee the unfolding disaster, and as the chain of eruptions unzips Yellowstone's volcanic crater, hundreds of thousands are killed as the ash swamps whole towns and cities.

Yellowstone geyser, USGS
Yellowstone is the largest volcanic system in North America
America's food-producing regions are devastated, communications are knocked out and planes are forced out of the sky.

Sulphuric acid droplets form in the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight, and causing global temperatures to plummet.

Professor Stephen Sparks, of Bristol University, an author on the new report, said civil contingency plans would need to be similar to those for a nuclear war.

"You would need contingencies for food and shelter. But you would need to put a serious amount of resources into any effort to cope with an event on this scale, so it poses a dilemma," he said.

The volcanic winter resulting from a super-eruption could last several years or decades, depending on the scale of an eruption, and according to recent computer models, could cause cooling on a global scale of 5-10C.

Damage limitation

Ailsa Orr, producer of Supervolcano, said that when the programme team presented the scenario to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), the agency admitted it had given little thought to such an event happening on American soil.

"We don't want to be sensationalist about this, but it's going to happen. We just can't say exactly when," said Professor Self.

"But we have just had a natural disaster affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Now is the time to be thinking about this."

Yellowstone is the largest volcanic system in North America. The area's cauldrons of bubbling mud and roaring geysers attract nearly three million visitors each year.

It was an obvious choice for the programme makers as the site of their super-eruption because of its location on a highly populated continent and because it has already had three of these events, which have occurred roughly 600,000 years apart from each other.

The crater from the last super-eruption, 640,000 years ago, is large enough to fit Tokyo - the world's biggest city - inside it.

The report, released by The Geological Society in the UK, identifies at least 31 sites where super-eruptions have occurred in the past. They include Lake Taupo in New Zealand and the Phlegrean Fields near Naples, Italy.

The drama Supervolcano is broadcast in two parts, on BBC One on Sunday 13 March and Monday 14 March. Both transmissions are at 2100 GMT. Two science documentaries called Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone are broadcast after the drama, on BBC Two. Again, these air on Sunday and Monday but at the later time of 2200 GMT

Supervolcano televisual impression (BBC)

 

By Kevin Krajick
July 2004
Smithsonian Magazine

http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues04/jul04/phenomena.html

Yellowstone Grumbles

Pent-up water and steam threaten to burst through the park's surface (And we're not talking Old Faithful here)

Yellowstone National Park is a land of many perils. Occasionally, one of the three million yearly visitors strolls up to a 2,000-pound bison and is gored. Others eat poisonous plants, snowmobile on avalanche-prone slopes, or plunge off a cliff on that last step backward to frame the perfect photograph. And at Yellowstone's 10,000 volcanically driven hot springs, geysers, bubbling mud pots and fumaroles—earth's largest concentration of hydrothermal features—about two dozen people have been boiled alive after falling or jumping in.

"People do a lot of crazy things," says Lisa Morgan, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) who conducts research in the park for a few weeks every summer. She is trying to protect the sandal-clad innocents not from these mishaps, however, but from the ultimate "thermal accident": hydrothermal explosions. They can happen when magma-heated water and steam build up in underground pockets. This pressure causes parts of the landscape to rise and fall like merry-go-round horses. Usually they settle back down again harmlessly. But now and then, things blow up.

One of Morgan's best guesses for the next big blowout—maybe the biggest in 3,000 years—is a 2,100-foot-wide, 100-foot-high swelling on the bed of Yellowstone Lake. No one has observed any of the park's ground movements long enough to say which ones signal danger, but she says the lake bed could conceivably burst open. If so, lakeside picnickers could see a tsunami or truck-size rocks heading their way. "I wouldn't want to be here," says Morgan. Then she thinks of the spectacle. "Well, maybe in an airplane."

The park sits on a still-active 30- by 45-mile caldera, a depression created when a volcano erupted 640,000 years ago. Chances of a lava eruption in the next 10,000 years appear remote, but magma simmering four to five miles beneath the caldera's trapped groundwater drives the park's hydrothermal convulsions. Geysers like Old Faithful release pressure, but it can build to the breaking point when heated fluids get sealed in by shifts in rock structures, clogged vents or overlying sediment and mineral deposits.

In and around Yellowstone Lake—which lies near the caldera's center—Morgan and colleagues have identified several areas heavily pocked by past hydrothermal explosions. The pits, which appear to untrained eyes as ponds or depressions in the ground, are a few yards to hundreds of yards wide. Along the lake, in eroded beach cliffs and creek banks, Morgan has found layers of sand and sharp-angled rock up to three feet thick; the debris was hurled as far as three and a half miles by past explosions in the lake bed. Arrowheads jumbled in lakeshore deposits suggest unlucky prehistoric Native Americans were around for some of the explosions.

Major ones occurred from 3,000 to 14,000 years ago, according to radiocarbon dating of wood fragments mingled with the deposited rock and soil debris. Since people started keeping track, in 1872, there have been at least 20 minor blowouts at sites around the park, including several at favorite tourist spots such as Biscuit Basin and Norris Geyser Basin. The last notable one was in 1989, when the throat of Norris Basin's Pork Chop Geyser apparently clogged with minerals. When it burst, boulders rained down near tourists more than 200 feet away. (They were unscathed.)

Only recently did scientists realize the entire park was heaving up and down. In the 1970s, geophysics professor Robert Smith of the University of Utah compared new scientific surveys of ground elevations with surveys made for road building in the 1920s. He found the caldera's center had risen nearly three feet. It kept rising until 1985, when a series of earthquakes rocked the park. Scientists speculate that the tremors coincided with the sideways escape of pent-up gases. Afterward, the caldera began deflating by three-quarters of an inch a year. In 1995, some parts of it reversed direction and started reinflating, until stopping in 2002. In the meantime, a previously undetected 25-mile-wide swelling began outside the caldera, near Norris Basin, surrounded by smaller swellings one to three miles in diameter.

Though no one is sure what all of this heaving means, it's given researchers a sense of urgency about understanding the park's contortions. "Protecting visitors is our No. 1 concern," says park geologist Hank Heasler, who is working with other scientists to come up with a threat-assessment plan.

New problem spots are popping up all the time as well. In March 2003, fourteen new steam vents opened along a 230-foot line north of Norris Basin, releasing plumes of dense water vapor and powdered glass shards in a tremendous roar. Then, last July, geysers began erupting at odd times. The park had to close off much of Norris when ground temperatures shot up in places from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to 200, and the earth near a boardwalk became more acidic and began to dissolve. The basin has since calmed down, and rangers have reopened most of it, but scientists are monitoring trailside areas with thermometers stuck in the ground, seismographs peppering strategic hills, and radar images taken from satellites. "Yellowstone is like a medical patient, but we haven't studied it long enough to know its normal pulse or respiration rate," says Heasler, standing half a mile from the new steam vents.

Morgan is still tracking the dome on the Yellowstone Lake floor called the "inflated plain." She first spotted it in 1999, while she and colleagues were mapping the lake bottom. The rise, she says, is apparently the result of steam or carbon dioxide building up under the lake bed, sealed in by sediments and overlying water pressure. The swelling seems to have grown in the 1990s and is suspiciously close in size to major blowout craters nearby. In fact, it lies along a nearby fissure, a crack that forms the bed of curiously straight Weasel Creek and continues through the lake bed itself. Morgan says the fissure may have been formed by the caldera's rise and fall, like the crack atop a loaf of bread rising in the oven.

At the lakeshore opposite the inflated plain one summer day, Morgan and USGS geochemist Pat Shanks investigate some small, inactive craters. They insert a temperature probe into the soil; six inches down, it registers 152 degrees F. Something is still fuming there. Suddenly, some tourists armed with cameras and collapsible walking sticks crest a ridge and charge down, and their guide collars Morgan for an impromptu lecture on the craters. She cheerfully obliges, telling the visitors that the craters are old features—probably not dangerous right now. She barely mentions the inflated plain. "I don't want to scare them too much," she says. "These people are on vacation."

By Kevin Krajick

http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues04/jul04/phenomena.html

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