Who is Watching Yellowstone's Volcano and Nearby Earthquakes?

Seismic activity is monitored around the clock by staff of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory with help from the University of Utah. No eruption soon.

Earthquake swarms and ground elevation changes are almost everyday occurrences at Yellowstone. Each year, 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes occur within the Yellowstone volcano region, averaging at about 1,600. Although most are too small to be felt (less than a magnitude 3.0), these quakes show the active nature of the Yellowstone area, one of the most seismically active areas in the United States.

Some might think such events near a volcano would signal an impending eruption, but in Yellowstone, it seems to be business as usual.

The most devastating earthquake on record to hit the Yellowstone area occurred on August 17, 1959. The Hebgen Lake Earthquake measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. At the time, it was the third-largest earthquake recorded in the lower 48 states.

The National Park Service has been monitoring the Yellowstone volcanic activity very closely for the last 30 years. Their prediction? The chance of a catastrophic eruption in the next 1,000 -10,000 years, is “very unlikely.”

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

Yellowstone earthquake activity is monitored around the clock by staff of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO), a cooperative effort of the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Utah. The YVO is one of five USGS observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for the purposes of science and public safety. The others are based in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and California.

In the above video, USGS Scientist-in-Charge of Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Jake Lowenstern, answers the following questions to provide a tour of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory: "What is YVO?", "How do you monitor volcanic activity at Yellowstone?", "How are satellites used to study deformation?", "Do you monitor geysers or any other aspect of the Park?", "Are earthquakes and ground deformation common at Yellowstone?", "Why is YVO a relatively small group?", and "Where can I get more information?"

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo

More Yellowstone Earthquake Monitoring

Seismic Monitor from iris.edu

Seismic Monitor from iris.edu

The University of Utah operates 31 seismograph stations throughout Yellowstone. To see a map of where earthquakes occurred in the last hour, day, or week, visit quake.utah.edu/index.shtml

In the global view, visit the earthquake monitor at www.iris.edu/seismon/. A global list of earthquake and volcano web sites can be found at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/


Geothermic Hotspots In (Yellow) and Near Yellowstone

Scientists study Yellowstone geothermic hotspot

Using thermal satellite images, scientists take the earth’s temperature hundreds of miles away from a destination to hopefully predict volcano eruptions.


Watch Geysers Erupt in Yellowstone

Yellowstone is the largest active geyser field in the world.

Yellowstone's Castle Geyser

History of Yellowstone’s Supervolcano

The Yellowstone area has seen tremendous volcanic activity in its past. 3 giant eruptions have occurred between 2.1 million and 640,000 years ago.


Docudrama Movie 'Supervolcano' by BBC and Discovery Channel

BBC Science and Discovery Channel produced the docudrama called “Super-Volcano,” followed by the documentary, “Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone.”

Fake Explosion

Is Yellowstone Going to Blow? Exaggerated Reports of Volatility

As long as there's been a National Park seated on a super volcano, there's been erroneous reports of impending doom.

Geyser in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin

Yellowstone is Leaking Helium

Yellowstone is releasing a about 60 tons of helium from underground stores each year, an amount hundreds, possibly thousands, of times more than expected.


Yellowstone Volcano Caldera Rises, Falls and Rises Again

Deep beneath Yellowstone, forces of heat and pressure cause the surface to rise and fall much like the breathing of a gigantic, slumbering beast.

Firehole River with Riverside Geyser. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Did You Know Yellowstone Has 3 Enormous Calderas?

At least 1,299 episodes of unrest have occurred at 138 calderas greater than 5 km in diameter during historical time.

Crust waves of a geyser at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Scientists Find 4X Magma Under Yellowstone's Supervolcano

Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger - nor closer to erupting - than before but now we have advanced techniques to map the system. See animation of magma chamber.