Yellowstone National Park has been hit with over 1,500 earthquakes in the last two months. The swarm of tremors has rocked the area almost daily since June 12, according to a statement from seismologists with the University of Utah.
The majority of the Yellowstone earthquakes have been small, with most registering a magnitude 0 or less. However, some have been recorded with a magnitude 3.0 or higher and one registered at magnitude 4.4, the largest to strike the region in over three years.
“The swarm consists of one earthquake in the magnitude 4.0 range, eight earthquakes in the magnitude 3.0 range, 134 earthquakes in the magnitude 2.0 range, 505 earthquakes in the magnitude 1.0 range, 879 earthquakes in the magnitude 0 range, and 35 earthquakes with magnitudes of less than zero,” a University of Utah report stated, as cited by Yellowstone Insider.
While heavy seismic activity is not necessarily unusual for Yellowstone, some fear this particular swarm of earthquakes is leading up to a much larger event. An enormous supervolcano lies below the national park and could be showing signs of an eruption. The ancient caldera is nearly 50 miles long, 12 miles wide, and clandestinely sits seven miles below the surface.
“When a volcano starts ‘acting up’ prior to an eruption, one of the typical signs is increased seismicity,” research professor at University of Utah Jamie Farrell told Newsweek.
If the Yellowstone earthquake swarm brings a supervolcano eruption, the devastating effects would be felt worldwide. The volcanic event would immediately kill 87,000 people living in the surrounding area and an estimated 66 percent of the United States would be uninhabitable. The tremendous blast would emit clouds of gas and ash large enough to block out the sun for several years, creating a looming “nuclear winter” that would threaten all life on Earth.
According to a previous Inquisitr report, the Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted 640,000 years ago. Experts estimate 240 cubic miles of ash were spewed into the atmosphere during the explosive event, which ultimately settled and covered most of the land mass that is now North and South America.
The eruption of Washington state’s Mount St. Helens in 1980 killed 57 people and caused ash to fall like snow in 11 neighboring states. Volcano experts predict the inevitable explosion of the Yellowstone supervolcano will be 6,000 times more powerful than Mount St. Helens.
Even though the swarm of Yellowstone earthquakes has locals trembling and fearing a super-eruption, seismologists do not think the Earth’s recent movements will lead to an explosion of the caldera. According to Farrell, the current number of tremors in the region is “fairly common” and so far, there is no reason to believe the earthquakes are associated with magma moving below the surface or any other typical signs of an impending supervolcano eruption.
[Featured Image by Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock]