A recent series of earthquakes rocked southeast Idaho and northern Utah. Beginning around 6 p.m. local time, 33 tremors were recorded in a six-hour period, with the largest measuring a magnitude 5.3.
The most powerful earthquake occurred roughly 10 miles east of Soda Springs, Idaho. Multiple aftershocks measuring between 3.1 and 4.1 were subsequently felt in the surrounding area, including as far away as Ogden, Utah.
Local officials say a series of earthquakes in Idaho this close together is exceptional for the area.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, per a report from the Idaho State Journal. “My wife asked if we should leave the house.”
The University of Utah Seismic Stations recorded the last of many earthquakes in Idaho just before 12 a.m. Sunday. There have not been any reports of injuries or substantial damage, but some seismologists speculate there could be more tremors on the way.
Soda Springs is less than 170 miles from Yellowstone National Park, and Saturday’s seismic activity in Idaho has some wondering if it is related to the swarm of earthquakes reported near the Yellowstone supervolcano. In the last three months, seismologists have recorded more than 1,500 quakes in the region.
Series of earthquakes have occurred in SE Idaho this afternoon. The largest, a 5.3 magnitude, was felt in Cache Valley: pic.twitter.com/76OxF9PRe2— Newton Fire (@NewtonFDUT) September 3, 2017
Deep below Yellowstone is an enormous, ancient volcano measuring 50 miles long and 12 miles wide. It is considered one of the largest volcanoes on Earth.
While it has been over 600,000 years since the last eruption, some seismologists are concerned the recent swarm of earthquakes may be sending warning signs the supervolcano is ready to explode once again.
“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.
Should the Yellowstone supervolcano erupt, thousands of people would die instantly from the explosion. It is widely believed that the gas and ash generated from the blast would block light and heat from the sun for decades, creating a nuclear winter that would threaten the survival of all life on the planet.
Despite fears of a supervolcano eruption, the number of earthquakes surrounding Yellowstone is not necessarily unusual. Every year anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 tremors are recorded in the area, many of which are too weak to even feel. So, the earthquakes in Idaho may be just part of the average despite the fears of local scientists and residents.
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