A swarm of some 600 small earthquakes have rattled California’s Mammoth Lakes region since Thursday morning, with most occurring in a 36-hour-period.
The earthquake swarm produced quakes ranging from 1.0 to 3.8 on the Richter Scale, according to the L.A. Times.
Residents in the area are used to earthquake swarms, as the region is one of the most seismically-active regions in the United States, according to NBC News. Helicopter tour operator Ed Roski, who lives in the area, said he only felt one of the quakes in this nearly 600-strong earthquake swarm.
“I just happened to be sitting at a table and it felt as if someone really heavy was walking by me. It was pretty minor.”
These earthquake swarms appear naturally and periodically in the region, as the volcanic formations in the area go through their regular life cycles. Still, USGS research seismologist David Shelly says that the recent earthquake swarm is worth keeping an eye on.
“This is one of the largest earthquake swarms we’ve seen in the past decade or so. We’ll be tracking it closely.”
The most recent earthquake swarm in the Mammoth Lakes region was in 1997, in a sequence that lasted several months, produced thousands of quakes, and produced a quake registering 4.9 on the Richter Scale. Although this particular earthquake swarm does appear to be dying down, as of this post, although these processes are difficult to predict.
“At this point, we don’t know if it would continue to die down, or if there’d be another stage to this swarm. This is certainly an interesting scientific opportunity to better understand the processes that are driving this activity.”
Although the Mammoth Lakes region’s earthquake swarms are related to volcanic activity, that does not mean that a volcanic eruption is imminent, or even remotely possible. Even though the region is the most seismically-active among California’s network of 17 mostly dormant volcanoes, the last eruption in the Mammoth Lakes region was 57,000 years ago. And although there is magma in the system, it’s deep below the surface. These earthquake swarms are triggered by water and carbon dioxide moving through the ground.
This is not the first time a series of earthquakes has struck in a volcanic region in the U.S. Earlier this month, a series of over 200 small earthquakes rattled the Yellowstone supervolcano, according to this Inquisitr report.
Do you believe the Mammoth Lakes earthquake swarm is a sign of worse things to come? Let us know what you think below.
[Image courtesy of: Travel Guys Radio]