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Monday, January 12, 2009

Yellowstone Quakes and Shakes!

This should please my sis Anna, she is a self-proclaimed volcano junkie! She's often said that if David Johnston was still around today he would be the man she would have loved to marry. He was a rather good-looking man!


Nice guy! I met the guy but I was too young to really care! He was the one who uttered those famous last words just before Mount St. Helens blew up and claimed him as one of her victims, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!!" That's the only man my sis Anna ever fell in love with. She doesn't like guys. She's not gay, she just doesn't trust men. But hey! If he was still around now, and Anna married him, they could have gone off on volcano-hunting trips together! But anyway, there is seismic activity at Yellowstone (and Anna wants to move there???) and it is causing some concern. If it blows, Anna says there is no way out! It'd cause a disaster of epic proportions. Pretty much most of the NW would be affected, so would the east coast. Anyway, here's an article I found about the activity going on at Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Quakes Shake Loose Eruption Fears
Mead Gruver, Associated Press
Jan. 12, 2009 -- Run for your lives ... Yellowstone's going to explode!

Hundreds of small earthquakes at Yellowstone National Park in recent weeks have been an unsettling reminder for some people that underneath the park's famous geysers and majestic scenery lurks one of the world's biggest volcanoes.

In the ancient past, the volcano has erupted 1,000 times more powerfully than the 1980 blast at Mount St. Helens, hurling ash as far away as Louisiana. No eruption that big has occurred while humans have walked the earth, however, and geologists say even a minor lava flow is extremely unlikely any time soon.

Some observers are nonetheless warning of imminent catastrophe.

"To those of us who have been following these events, we know that something is brewing, especially considering that Yellowstone is over 40,000 years overdue for a major eruption," warned a posting on the online disaster forum Armageddononline.org.

Another Web site contained a page entitled "Yellowstone Warning" that encouraged "everyone to leave Yellowstone National Park for 100 miles around the volcano caldera because of the danger in poisonous gasses that can escape from the hundreds of recent earthquakes."

That site, which carried the U.S. Geological Survey logo, has since been taken down.

"A casual observer would be led to believe that was an official source," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said, pointing out that the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which monitors the park for seismic activity, hasn't changed the volcano's alert level from "normal."

Working with the Geological Survey, Nash issued a news release Thursday, saying no evacuation had been ordered.

Jessica Robertson, a Geological Survey spokeswoman in Reston, Va., said the Web page violated the USGS trademark and that the agency's attorneys were investigating whether a federal offense was committed.

Phone and e-mail messages left with the contact named on the Web site weren't returned Thursday.

Earthquakes are hardly unusual in Yellowstone. Hundreds occur in the park every year. Earthquake "swarms" like the recent activity also aren't uncommon, although the 900 or so quakes that began Dec. 26 and significantly tapered off about a week later appear to have been the most energetic swarm in more than 20 years.

The most powerful temblor was magnitude 3.9, just short of being able to cause moderate damage. The vast majority of quakes were too weak to be felt by people.

Scientists knowledgeable about Yellowstone's geology aren't publicly speculating about what caused the swarm before they can analyze data. That will take months.

"I could come up with 100 different theories without any evidence for them and they would all be equally likely," said Jake Lowenstern, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based scientist in charge of Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. "Unless you have some reason to say that's what's going on, then you're not going to get a whole lot of people convinced by your speculation."

Park geologist Hank Heasler said the odds of a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone any time soon are astonishingly remote -- about the same as a large meteorite hitting the Earth. The last such eruption occurred 640,000 years ago. The last eruption of any kind at Yellowstone was a much smaller lava flow about 70,000 years ago.

"Statistically, it would be surprising to see an eruption the next hundred years," Lowenstern said.

Much more likely, he said, would be a hydrothermal explosion in which underground water encounters a hot spot and blasts through the surface. Small hydrothermal explosions producing craters a few feet wide occur in Yellowstone perhaps once or twice a year. Large hydrothermal explosions leaving craters the size of a football field occur every 200 years or so, according to a 2007 paper co-authored by Heasler, Lowenstern and others.

Lowenstern said new equipment installed deep within bore holes in the park over the past two summers eventually should provide a clear picture of what's causing the earthquake swarm. That data could help scientists make better predictions about Yellowstone's geology.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, what better way to go than to BE at Yellowstone when it goes off. David Johnston did when Mount St. Helens went off.

I would have to believe the scientists, just because there are earthquake swarms does not necessarily mean that a volcano is going to go off anytime soon. Mount Hood did that back in 1992 and nothing happened. I remember reading about it.
We all tend to get excited when we hear about earthquakes going off in volcanic areas and we really want to believe something will happen in the near future. Though that was true with Mount St. Helens, that type of eruption is a rare event and does not happen often.
Yellowstone however is much bigger than Mount St. Helens, and the probability of a major catastrophic event happening there is very low. However volcanoes are very unpredictable and it would be something to see it go off.
Anna

Timgal said...

Mount Baker did the same thing since 1975, and nothing has happened to it either.

Metalraptor said...

Across the United States during the Tertiary, fossils have been unusually forming since the Eocene, 50 million years ago. What would happen is that you would get a small, slow accumulation of sediment, and then A MASSIVE 3-FOOT THICK BURIAL OF SEDIMENT! Well, except in Florida. So, what happened? Yellowstone happened. All the Cenozoic fossils you see in museums from North America; oreodonts, entelodonts, protceratids, camels, three-toed horses, rhinos, all covered in flour-white soil? Yeah, that's volcanic ash, that choked those poor mammals to death. This has been going on since the Eocene (which makes the American West a great place to study mammal evolution, but bad for everyone else). If Yellowstone were to blow...everone west of the Mississippi would be destroyed. And people on the east coast would starve, seeing as the Great Plains are the breadbasket of the U.S. If there was any substantial evidence that Yellowstone would go boom, I would high-tail it to Florida, what appeared to be the only safe place in the Continental U.S. (but anything east of the Mississippi would be fine, I guess). Of course, it doesn't help that the Yellowstone Caldera is moving. During the Early-Middle Miocene, it was on the Oregon-Idaho Border. Through the Pliocene and Pleistocene, it traveled through and created the Snake River Valley of Idaho. Now, its in Wyoming, but by 50 million years hence, its supposed to be smack dab in the middle of Montana. Soon, Florida won't even be safe.