Some very strange events have happened at Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming. What could these events mean for the caldera? Well I don't know exactly yet, but I do believe another round of uplift could be starting for the infamous caldera. On January 13, 2019, a few earthquakes maxing out at M2.4 struck right near the northern tip of Yellowstone lake, striking very close to the epicenter of the concerning 2008-2009 dike intrusion of Yellowstone Lake. Today's activity was small, yes, but maybe more important than many other swarms that has hit this area in recent years. This blog post will take a very quick look at some of the events that transpired today. Don't worry, I will be doing a video on this tomorrow night (from the time I am writing this: 9:42pm PST 1/13/2019). As always, please click the title of this post or "read more" to continue!!!
January 13, 2019 seems to be an interesting day for Yellowstone caldera! There was a M2.4 at 6.4km in depth at 7:39UTC on this date. It was preceded by a few smaller VT earthquakes and was followed by a few more. During this time period there were hundreds of very tiny low frequency events. At first I thought they could be related to the sheet of ice on the lake shifting, seeing that does happen alot and it can create very tiny, low frequency "popping". However, this increase in activity did occur during a small increase in sulfur dioxide at the infamous caldera. I will show that in the video I am making. I will upload the video on the night of January 14 (January 15 to some people across the world). I will post the video at the end of this post once it is uploaded.
The seismicity seemed to have calmed for a couple hours or so. Then, unsurprisingly, more earthquakes broke out. However I was expecting it to be another rapid fire swarm of VT (volcano-tectonic) earthquakes, seeing that is how Yellowstone has been acting for a while now. To my surprise, they did not occur at a fast pace at all. It seemed like a normal swarm... Until I decided to analyze the events...
The events that occurred near the end of the UTC day, plots shown below, have not been seen at Yellowstone for over a decade!!! Around 7 small low frequency earthquakes, ranging from around M0.1 to M0.6, struck directly underneath Yellowstone Lake (with some striking almost directly between stations YLA and B208). I was shocked beyond belief to see these events, seeing that the last time they were seen was during the 2008-2009 dike intrusion of Yellowstone Lake (CLICK HERE). Seriously, compare the plots on that page (under the "low frequency earthquakes possibly indicative of strong magma resonance") to the plots shown in this post. Although the recent events are much smaller, they definitely appear to be caused by the same process.
As some of you might already know, Yellowstone has already experienced two strange and energetic earthquake swarms. December 2018 saw about 5 minor rapid fire swarms at West Thumb Lake, as we do see from time to time (new seismic events page coming soon for all rapid fire swarms at West Thumb Lake). However right when New Years Eve 2018 started, December 31, a large swarm broke out just west of the northern tip of Yellowstone Lake. Please CLICK HERE to visit the seismic event page/post dedicated to this swarm. The swarm contained around 255 earthquakes within 5 hours and 35 minutes. A week of near silence went by. Then, on January 6, 2019 (just before midnight Mountain Time on January 5, 2019), a low-quantity swarm struck to the northeast of Yellowstone Lake. The count of earthquakes was minor, about 14 earthquakes in 7 minutes or so, but the magnitudes were much larger than what we have seen and occurred at a very rapid pace. Please CLICK HERE to also visit the page/post dedicated to that specific swarm.
Ever since then I have truly believed those two swarms show that something is changing at Yellowstone, very possibly a new round of uplift. What is going on at Yellowstone? Why are earthquake swarms starting to behave much differently than ever seen before? FYI, 2018 saw the highest count of rapid fire swarms near West Thumb and Yellowstone Lakes than any other year on record! However, this record was set during increased subsidence (sinking; deflation). Could the recent change in seismicity signal a new round of uplift is starting???? Who knows.
Below I will show the data to the events that occurred on January 13, 2019. I will try to show as much as possible but please remember I am making a video about this in the next day (will be posted at the end of this post once it is uploaded). Remember to always read chart labels first and pay attention to any captions beneath any images. I will first show the helicorder to Borehole 208, pay attention to its labels, and then for 3 other of the closest seismic stations. I will then show the seismic plots.
1. The time period of before, during, and after the M2.4 and other unreported, smaller events. You can clearly see the reported earthquake, but what is all of that activity? I first thought they could be very small ice quakes caused by the sheet of ice currently covering Yellowstone Lake. However, once the low frequency events occurred (#3), I believe these could be caused by tiny bubbles of gas "farting" its way out of the magma which it lives. Remember some low frequency events that occur during increased unrest are caused by degassing of the magma itself. However know that there are many other volcanic processes that can create low frequency events, such as magma resonance (like clapping a bell). The earthquakes and tiny "popping" during this time period were accompanied by a strange, but low increase in sulfur dioxide at Yellowstone Caldera. Could they be related? Or could it just be a coincidence? Well, with the events that happened later on, I doubt they were a coincidence.
2. The timeline of the helicorder showing the M2.4 at 6.4km in depth (plots shown below). This event saw a few earthquakes just prior, but they were extremely small in comparison.
3. This is the time period of the strange low frequency earthquakes, which are almost identical to the ones seen during the 2008-2009 dike intrusion of Yellowstone Lake and have not been seen since! Notice how on the helicorder above, they look almost identical to the higher-frequency earthquake (M2.4). That is another reason why monitoring helicorder charts ONLY will get you no where. That is why accurately monitoring of volcanic hazard areas is key, and is also alot easier than you think. Remember, my website here has alot of information on how to get you started in doing what I do. You may think it takes a long time but it really doesn't!!!
4. This section of time will not be included in the plots below. They will be examined in the video I will upload tomorrow night (of the time I am writing this; will add to end of post when it is uploaded). During this time period there were many small high frequency VT quakes in conjunction with more of those "popping" low frequency events. Remember, ice quakes can cause events such as these but a few of them do show on distant stations showing some are definitely NOT being caused by the ice sheet on Yellowstone Lake. What is going on? Why is Yellowstone degassing so much right now, if that is what some of this is being caused by?
Ben Ferraiuolo is a fast learner and someone who will always stand for the truth. Visit "About Me" for more!