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If another catastrophic caldera-forming Yellowstone eruption were to occur, it quite likely would alter global weather patterns and have enormous effects on human activity, especially agricultural production, for many years.
Yellowstone is monitored for signs of volcanic activity by YVO scientists who detect earthquakes using seismographs and ground motion using GPS (Global Positioning System). YVO has not detected signs of activity that suggest an eruption is imminent.
INCREASED THERMAL ACTIVITY AT NORRIS GEYSER BASIN REQUIRES TEMPORARY CLOSURE
Geologists say there is a real risk that sooner or later a supervolcano will erupt with devastating force, sending temperatures plunging on a hemispheric or even global scale.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) - Geothermal activity is increasing in a Yellowstone National Park geyser basin and the bottom of Yellowstone Lake is bulging, but scientists say there is no impending major eruption.
But this year is exceptional, with a new mud pot welling up, 200-degree temperatures on the ground and geysers that haven't erupted in years spouting off.
It Is Time To Cast a Worried
Eye Towards Yellowstone
On August 10, the Denver Post reported that Liz Morgan, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist had discovered a huge bulge underneath Yellowstone Lake that had risen 100 feet from the lake floor. The bulge is two thousand feet long and has the potential to explode at any time. Morgan was quoted as saying that "The inflated plain is a potential and serious hazard and possible precursor to a large hydrothermal explosion event."
A micro earthquake occurred on Sunday, 28 September 2003 at 10:30:25PM (MDT) .
The magnitude 2.6 event occurred 36 km ( 22 miles) S of West Thumb, WY.
The hypocentral depth is 4 km ( 2 miles).
A micro earthquake occurred on Monday, 29 September 2003 at 3:33:23AM (MDT) .
The magnitude 1.6 event occurred 37 km ( 23 miles) S of West Thumb, WY.
The hypocentral depth is 2 km ( 1 mile).
At each field site, the seismometer acts as a transducer to convert ground velocity to an electrical signal, which is amplified and converted into a frequency-modulated (FM) audio tone within the amplifier/VCO unit. Eight FM center frequencies ranging from 680 to 3060 Hz are in use with a 340 Hz separation between center frequencies and an individual fixed bandwidth of 250 Hz.
Data from the YSN are transmitted continuously via either UHF or VHF analog radios to an FAA radar site located on Sawtelle Peak, Idaho. Signals are then multiplexed onto four FAA microwave lines for retransmission to the FAA control center in Salt Lake City, UT. From there, the data are transmitted to the University of Utah's central recording laboratory via four voice-grade telephone lines.
We also talked about the Caldera boundary and the official Caldera maps. She noted that the bathymetric mapping of the Lake had proved their boundary estimation incorrect. She did not have the details of where and how far, only that the maps are wrong for the Lake portion of the boundary. It leaves to wonder, where else the map may be incorrect?
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: [Pinpoint EQ News] OT: Yellowstone on FoxNEWS - boiling ground
For anyone following the situation at Yellowstone, a friend just told me
that on the RADIO, at the top of the hour on a local station which has
FoxNEWS - that it was reported that the Boiling Geyser of Yellowstone
Park, which has been dormant for thirty years erupted today - it erupted TWICE
September 2003 Yellowstone Seismicity Summary
During the month of September 2003, 80 earthquakes were
located in the Yellowstone region. The largest shock to
occur during this report period was a magnitude 3.3
earthquake on September 10th at 10:20 UTC, located about
22.4 miles south southeast of West Thumb, Wyoming, and
near the southern park border. This earthquake is part
of an aftershock sequence that began with a mainshock that
occurred on August 21, 2003, with a magnitude 4.4 has
continued to produce smaller aftershocks.
Earthquake activity in the Yellowstone region is at
On 10 March 2003, a new thermal feature was reported west of Nymph Lake, located about 3.5 km northwest of the Norris Museum. A linear series of vigorous fumaroles about 75 m long had formed in a forested area located about 200 m from the lake's west shoreline on the side of a hill. Fine particles of rock and mineral fragments ejected from the fumaroles coated nearby vegetation. Fumarole temperatures were as high as 92°C (198°F), the boiling temperature of water at that elevation. After two months, somewhat reduced steam emission was accompanied by discharge of approximately 11 to 38 liters (3 to 10 gallons) per minute of near-neutral thermal water. Trees within 4 m of the lineament had died and were being slowly combusted.
There is no evidence that magma beneath the enormous Yellowstone caldera is directly involved in the recent changes at Norris or Nymph Lake. Though magma as shallow as 3-6 miles beneath Norris does provide the heat for the geothermal system, the current activity is very unlikely to reflect magma ascent or increased likelihood of volcanism at Yellowstone Park. If magma were to rise to shallow levels beneath the ground it would be accompanied by intense swarms of local earthquakes and extensive displacement (deformation) of the ground surface around Norris. Thus far, caldera-wide seismicity and ground deformation have remained at typical background levels beneath Yellowstone and Norris.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK -- Portions of the Norris Geyser Basin that were closed since July 23 because of increased geothermal activity are scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. today.
About 4,800 feet of the 5,800 feet of trails that were closed will be reopened. Only the Back Basin Trail between Green Dragon Spring and the Porkchop Geyser intersection will remain closed, Yellowstone officials said Tuesday.
Norris is the park's hottest and most seismically active geyser basin. Each year, there is a noticeable change in the color and steam discharge of many of the basin's thermal features. It is called the "annual disturbance."
This year's annual disturbance was hotter and longer than normal and resulted in the formation of many new steam vents and unacceptably high ground temperatures in accessible areas -- in some cases up to 200 degrees.
In light of the new activity, safety is a growing concern, and officials are writing a hazard plan in case the region grows more active. The ground warming could mean that heat is increasing water pressure, a possible cause of eruptions.
Except for the quake two months ago, Yellowstone has had far fewer quakes in recent years. ‘‘Seismically, its been deathly quiet,'' Smith said. ‘‘We average a half-dozen to 20 quakes'' a day. ‘‘The last two years, we see a couple a day.''
At the northern end of the basin, a series of vents, or fumaroles, appeared and mud pots cropped up on the trail, splattering hot acidic mud, though it later disappeared.
‘‘Norris,'' Heasler said, ‘‘is showing us something, and whether we can figure it out, we'll see.''
I was driving west on US 20 approximately 10 miles east of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. My wife was in the front passenger seat. The time was 20:35 (8:35 PM Mountain time) on Friday night September 29, 2003. The sun had already set, so it was quite dark. This is a wilderness area that we were in, no lights what so ever for miles. No other vehicles were in the area. The skies were clear. One could practically reach up and touch the stars. The landscape on each side of the two lane road had new pine tree growth with a height of 4 to 10 feet.
We were traveling about 30MPH with the windows rolled down so we could hear the elk bugling in the not so far distance. Suddenly and without warning, approximately 3 feet off the ground and 30 feet in front of us, a red sphere darted across the road from left to right (south to north). The color was that of a lit tail light lens, but not bright as if brakes were applied. This completely circular object, about 6" in diameter, flew straight for the short duration that we saw it. Sighting was lost as it entered the trees. This was not a flash of light bouncing off an object and again, no other vehicles were within sight. Nothing was said to each other until I stopped at a pull-off a couple of miles down the road. We then looked at each other and I asked my wife, "Did you see that back there?" Her reply was, "I wasn't going to say anything until you did. What was that red ball?" We compared notes. We indeed did see a 6" red ball flying from left to right about 3' off the ground. No sound was noted.