Yellowstone rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years

Yellowstone rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years

EARTHQUAKE:The Yellowstone River winds through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 9. Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquha

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) – Yellowstone National Park, which sits atop one of the world’s largest super-volcanoes, was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The tremor, a relatively light event by seismic standards, struck the northwest corner of the park and capped a flurry of smaller quakes at Yellowstone since Thursday, geologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a statement.

The latest earthquake struck at 6:34 a.m. near the Norris Geyser Basin and was felt about 23 miles away in two small Montana towns adjacent to year-around entrances to the park – Gardiner and West Yellowstone.

The national park spans 3,472 square miles (8,992 square km) of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and draws about 3 million visitors each year to its iconic geysers and wildlife attractions, including bison.

A U.S. Geological Survey team planned to tour the Norris Geyser Basin on Sunday to determine if the quake altered any of Yellowstone’s geothermal features, such as geysers, mud pots and hot springs.

Several people reported having felt shaking they compared to the rumble of a tractor-trailer truck driving by, and a few items fell off the shelves at a local grocery store, a West Yellowstone police dispatcher said.

About 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes strike Yellowstone each year, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a research partnership of the park, the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The ancient super-volcano, or caldera, that lies beneath the surface of the park was discovered by scientists in recent years to be 2.5 times larger than previously thought, measured at 30 miles wide, according to the park.

Sunday’s quake occurred near the center of an area of ground uplift that geologists have been tracking for several months, University of Utah seismologists said. Elevated seismic activity was also found in the area during a previous period of uplift from 1996 to 2003.

The recent spike in earthquake activity at Yellowstone is linked to the uplift, which in turn is caused by the upward movement of molten rock beneath the Earth’s crust, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Fortunately, there was no indication that the recent seismic activity signaled an impending eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, scientists said.

Researchers with the observatory have said in the past that catastrophic eruptions by the super-volcano are unlikely for tens of thousands of years, though less extreme lava releases could occur within thousands of years.

The super-volcano’s most cataclysmic eruption occurred 2 million years ago, covering half of North America with ash and killing prehistoric animals as far as away as modern-day Nebraska, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Heat from a vast chamber of molten rock beneath the caldera fuels the park’s famous geothermal features, including Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone scientists say.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)

News from


today in Military, News

Top general in Afghanistan: US strike on hospital a mistake

The clinic was operated by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

3BCT Welcome Home 10-6 (64)

today in News, Photos

3rd BCT soldiers welcomed home

208 3rd Brigade Combat Team soldiers returned from Afghanistan early Tuesday morning.

woodlawn little league burglary  (3)

yesterday in Crime, News

Equipment worth $15,000 stolen from Woodlawn Little League

Two John Deere Gators were stolen from a building at Woodlawn Park.

WEST, JAMES- Sexual Exploitation of Minor- Bond $75,000

yesterday in Crime, News

Fort Campbell soldier arrested after child porn found in his home

James West made an online post that expressed interest in a sexual relationship with a child.


yesterday in Business, News

Hankook Tire to host Career Info Fair in Clarksville

The tire manufacturing plant will hire more than 1,000 employees in the next 16 months.