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Alaska Quake Seems to Trigger Yellowstone Jolts
Small Tremors Rattle National Park After Big Quake 2,000 Miles Away
November 4, 2002 -- A major, magnitude-7.9 earthquake that rocked Alaska on Sunday apparently triggered scores of earthquakes some 2,000 miles away at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
The 1946 tsunami that caused severe damage in Hawai'i came from a location at 52.8 degrees north and 163.5 degrees west, about 900 miles away.
The 1957 tsunami came from a quake quite close to yesterday's temblor. It was at 51.5 degrees north, 175.7 degrees west, just 84 miles away and within the Andreanof Islands.
Old Faithful - This famous geyser got its name because of its punctuality and predictability. Old Faithful erupts more frequently than other large geysers. Contrary to popular belief Old Faithful is not the largest geyser in the park. Eruptions at Old Faithful last anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, and sprays water and steam up to 184 ft vertically. The average interval of Old Faithful was every 76 minutes. An earthquake occurring in the winter of 1998, effected the time interval of Old Faithful. Eruptions now occur approximately every 80 minutes.
Even with such sophisticated tools as strain gauges, laser beams and magnetometers to determine the buildup of dangerous stresses in the earth, scientists have had little success in forecasting major earthquakes. But as they have attempted to develop more complex quake-prediction devices, they may have been overlooking a simple one that predates man. A U.S. Government scientist reports that nature itself may provide a primitive early-warning system in the periodic eruptions of spectacular geysers like Yellowstone National Park's Old Faithful.
The concept was developed by Physicist John S. Rinehart of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has been comparing the past activities of Old Faithful and two other famous geysers—Yellowstone's Riverside and Old Faithful in Calistoga, Calif.—with earthquake records dating back more than a century. He found that although geysers are commonly thought to erupt with clocklike regularity, their timing begins to change as the stresses that lead to quakes begin increasing in the earth around them; Yellowstone's Old Faithful speeds up any time from two to four years before a major quake within 60 miles of the geyser. It begins slowing down again shortly after the shock.
Geysers may even predict major quakes that will occur thousands of miles away. In the early 1960s, for example, Old Faithful was spewing forth once every 67 minutes. But in 1963 its rate increased to once every 65½ minutes. Then in 1964 it abruptly slowed down again. To Rinehart, that variation in Old Faithful's timing seems intimately connected with Alaska's destructive Good Friday quake in 1964.
ADAK -- Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees requested to be evacuated from Kasatochi Island in the Aleutians after seismic activity in the area, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The island, about 50 miles east of Adak, was reportedly experiencing tremors and volcanic uncertainty, which prompted the Alaska Volcano Observatory to issue an advisory in the area.
Geologist Bob Smith, of the University of Utah, said to understand what's going on today, you have to look 16.5 million years back in time. That's when the North American plate started traveling over the Yellowstone "hot spot," a huge plume of molten or partly molten rock rising up from the upper part of the Earth's mantle. Periodically, that "hot spot" has erupted, beginning near what is now northern Nevada and southeastern Oregon. As the continental plate drifted to the southwest, said Smith, the hot spot blew more than 100 times in super volcano eruptions, leaving overlapping calderas and vast lava flows in Idaho, known as the Snake River Plain.
The hot spot finally arrived under Yellowstone and had three successive giant eruptions at 2 million, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago. Yellowstone may well have had spectacular mountains like the nearby Tetons, but these supervolcano blasts either knocked them down or swallowed them as the calderas collapsed, Smith noted. The result is the relatively flat, undulating topography of the Yellowstone Plateau.
All told, the Yellowstone hot spot left a 350-mile trail of older, dead calderas that have been worn down or filled in.
Similarly, the Hawaiian island chain was created by another hot spot under the Pacific Ocean. As it periodically erupted under a moving tectonic plate, it built a series of islands. So, too, with Iceland, created by a hot spot located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Two U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologists were rescued from volcanic Kasatochi Island in the Aleutians today shortly before an eruption sent an ash plume 35,000 feet in the air.
The biologists, who were studying birds, have not been identified, but seismologists said they narrowly escaped burning flows of gas, steam and ash that probably enveloped the mile-wide island.
"If they had been there, they certainly could have died," said Stephanie Prejean, seismologist with U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory.
Originally posted by stikkinikki
Things are heating up in the Alaskan Island Chain. The list of 3 plus quakes around Atka is quite busy. I kind of watch the rolling number of earthquakes within the last week for the US and world. We've added 200 out of 1200 now listed in the last day. The depths vary form the surface to 46 miles deep so it makes me think maybe, perhaps it is a volcano about to spew.