Yellowstone volcano: Why USGS scientists may fear earthquake swarms could spark ...

The Yellowstone Caldera is a supervolcano located below Yellowstone National Park in the Western US. It sits between the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and is constantly monitored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) due to its capability to inflict disaster on a global scale if a supereruption occurs. The last event of this kind has not happened for more than 630,000 years and any serious eruption in 70,000 – which reportedly makes another supereruption overdue.

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Earlier today, a magnitude 3.1 earthquake was recorded in Manhattan, Montana, just 100 miles from the Yellowstone caldera.

Though the tremors were small, they will still be of interest to scientists due to the high possibility of a swarm, which can see hundreds of small earthquakes in a short period of time.

USGS’s website explains: “Since 1973, there have been over 48,000 earthquakes located in the Yellowstone region. 

“Over 99% of those earthquakes are magnitude 2 or below and are not felt by anyone. 

Earthquake swarms raise fears of eruptionsEarthquake swarms raise fears of eruptions (Image: GETTY)

A 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck todayA 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck today (Image: GOOGLE)

Large swarms that can contain 1,000's of earthquakes and last for months do occur on occasion


“Earthquake swarms (earthquakes that cluster in time and space) account for about 50 percent of the total seismicity in Yellowstone and can occur anywhere in the Yellowstone region, but they are most common in the east-west band of seismicity between Hebgen Lake and the Norris Geyser Basin.

“Most swarms are small, containing 10-20 earthquakes, and short, lasting for 1–2 days. 

“However, large swarms that can contain 1,000's of earthquakes and last for months do occur on occasion.”

Earthquake swarms pose a threat as they can trigger a volcanic eruption, though scientists are unsure exactly how.

They believe the volcanic activity possibly occurs in response to a change in the local pressure surrounding the magma reservoir system as a

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