Yellowstone for the month of May was hit with 288 earthquakes making people worry that it could signal we are closer to an eruption. Yellowstone is a supervolcano and if it ever erupted could spread ash thousands of miles over the United States. Many are worried that this could signal “The Big One”. Fortunately though we keep a close eye on any activity in that area and should have plenty of notice if something were to happen.
How much earthquake activity does it usually get?
On average per year Yellowstone gets from 700 to 3000 earthquakes per year. Yellowstone earthquakes happen as a result of being at a fault meeting point. Many of these earthquakes happen in clusters and some aren’t even felt. They earthquakes are it’s way of maintaining hydrothermal activity by keeping the “plumbing” system open. The plumbing system referring to the magma and the tectonic plates hosted underneath the area. According to NPS.gov, “The largest swarm occurred in 1985, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded during three months on the northwest side of the park.”
If it erupted what could happen?
The worry for eruption of Yellowstone isn’t that the magma will overrun cities or townspeople. While some would most certainly be in the wake of the flow the biggest fear is what the after effects would have on the country. Heavy ash could cover buildings and crops which would then be unusable for consumption. Save maybe the tubers that are grown underground or crops that are inside hydroponic facilities. Our key infastructure would have to be re-mapped completely.
Should we be worried?
Scientists know that if it erupted it could spell out disaster for the United States. But fortunately they track it very well and can let us know when they think it will happen.This supervolcano has had three enormous eruptions in its long history. One occurred 2.1 million years ago, one 1.3 million years ago, and one 664,000 years ago. So while we *think we may be overdue for an eruption the chances are actually very slim that would happen. At an average of about 725,000 years between eruptions we still have about 100,000 years to go if that’s the case.