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Speaking about the event, Smith called it “remarkable,” asking, “How does one swarm relate to another? Can one swarm trigger another and vice versa?”
No answers are available to Smith’s questions, however, because simultaneous swarms haven’t been detected before.
Smith says he believes that at least two of the swarms are probably related to each other though.
The three swarms hit in the following areas: Lewis Lake, the Lower Geyser Basin and the northwest part of Norris Geyser Basin.
Earlier this month, on September 15, the largest earthquake to rock Yellowstone in over a year occurred about six miles north of the Old Faithful Geyser. Its magnitude was about 3.6 at its epicenter. It takes a magnitude of about 3.0 for people to feel it, a Yellowstone representative named Al Nash told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
According to Nash, a strong enough earthquake, like the 7.3-7.5 quake that shook the Hebgen Lake area in 1959, has the potential to change the activity of the geysers in the area. And, in fact the 1959 quake did. It caused nearly 300 features to erupt, included 160 where there were no previous records of geysers. None of the current earthquakes were powerful enough to create these types of changes, however.
Smith says he believes that the current swarms of earthquakes may, in fact, be related to the 1959 earthquake. “We think that much of the seismicity is still aftershocks from that event in 1959. It can go on for hundreds of years.”
This professor Smith said that usually only about a half dozen quakes hit Yellowstone per year so this level of swarm activity is unusual.