News

Yellowstone rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years

Yellowstone rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years

EARTHQUAKE:The Yellowstone River winds through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 9. Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquha

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) – Yellowstone National Park, which sits atop one of the world’s largest super-volcanoes, was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The tremor, a relatively light event by seismic standards, struck the northwest corner of the park and capped a flurry of smaller quakes at Yellowstone since Thursday, geologists at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a statement.

The latest earthquake struck at 6:34 a.m. near the Norris Geyser Basin and was felt about 23 miles away in two small Montana towns adjacent to year-around entrances to the park – Gardiner and West Yellowstone.

The national park spans 3,472 square miles (8,992 square km) of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and draws about 3 million visitors each year to its iconic geysers and wildlife attractions, including bison.

A U.S. Geological Survey team planned to tour the Norris Geyser Basin on Sunday to determine if the quake altered any of Yellowstone’s geothermal features, such as geysers, mud pots and hot springs.

Several people reported having felt shaking they compared to the rumble of a tractor-trailer truck driving by, and a few items fell off the shelves at a local grocery store, a West Yellowstone police dispatcher said.

About 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes strike Yellowstone each year, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a research partnership of the park, the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The ancient super-volcano, or caldera, that lies beneath the surface of the park was discovered by scientists in recent years to be 2.5 times larger than previously thought, measured at 30 miles wide, according to the park.

Sunday’s quake occurred near the center of an area of ground uplift that geologists have been tracking for several months, University of Utah seismologists said. Elevated seismic activity was also found in the area during a previous period of uplift from 1996 to 2003.

The recent spike in earthquake activity at Yellowstone is linked to the uplift, which in turn is caused by the upward movement of molten rock beneath the Earth’s crust, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Fortunately, there was no indication that the recent seismic activity signaled an impending eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, scientists said.

Researchers with the observatory have said in the past that catastrophic eruptions by the super-volcano are unlikely for tens of thousands of years, though less extreme lava releases could occur within thousands of years.

The super-volcano’s most cataclysmic eruption occurred 2 million years ago, covering half of North America with ash and killing prehistoric animals as far as away as modern-day Nebraska, according to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Heat from a vast chamber of molten rock beneath the caldera fuels the park’s famous geothermal features, including Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone scientists say.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Third ‘Night at the Museum’ marks final film for Williams, Rooney

nightatthemuseum

The credits for "Secret of the Tomb," which opens Friday, read "In loving memory of Mickey Rooney," and "For Robin Williams - the magic never ends."

in Music

Ray Price’s widow opens up after loss

FILE - In a Jan. 7, 2011, file photo, Country Music Hall of Fame member and Grammy Award winner Ray Price celebrates his 86th birthday by performing in Bullard Texas. Price, one of country music's most popular and influential singers and bandleaders who had more than 100 hits and was one of the last living connections to Hank Williams, died Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. He was 87.

Ray Price's widow refused to leave her house for four months in the aftermath of her husband's death.

in Entertainment

Chris Pratt thought ‘Guardians’ would be a box office flop

Guardians Of The Galaxy

The "Parks and Rec" star was very, very wrong.

in Entertainment

Sony cancels ‘The Interview’ in win for N. Korean hackers

interview

The $44 million raunchy comedy was scheduled to debut on Christmas Day.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: Modern ‘Annie’ a mixed bag

This photo released by Colombia Pictures - Sony shows Jamie Foxx, left, as Will Stacks and Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie in a scene from Columbia Pictures' "Annie."

"Annie" gets an update for the new film version of the classic musical, starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis.