Planet Earth

1000 earthquakes per month. The activity of a supervolcano capable of destroying life on Earth has increased

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), more than 1,000 earthquakes were registered in July. Similar seismic activity was observed in this region in June 2017, when the earth shook more than 1,100 times. The level of seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park is above average.

Seismologists say that these earthquakes were almost invisible, only four of them were of magnitude 3 – they can be seen, but they are unlikely to cause significant damage. According to scientists, there are no prerequisites to say that the supervolcano under the park will manifest itself in full force and there will be a very strong eruption, according to Sciencealert.

The strongest earthquake

“Although the level of seismic activity is above average, it is not a manifestation of magmatic activity,” – say scientists. “If magmatic activity were the cause of earthquakes, we would see other manifestations of this activity, such as gas or heat emissions to the surface, but this was not the case.”

In July, seismologists recorded a total of 1,008 earthquakes. It was a series of earthquakes, the most powerful of which were in the middle of the month. Then there were at least 764 earthquakes, including the strongest earthquake of the month with a magnitude of 3.6. Seismologists say other earthquakes were weaker, less than 3 points.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was probably the result of traffic on faults under the park. According to scientists, the movement in the faults can be caused by melting snow, which increases the amount of groundwater seeping under the park, and increases the level of groundwater pressure.

Yellowstone typically has between 700 and 3,000 earthquakes a year. But most of them go unnoticed by park visitors. And the strongest earthquake in the history of Yellowstone was a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in 1959.

Yellowstone volcano. Photo: Forbes

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Why is it shaking?

Yellowstone National Park is located above a network of fault lines connected by a huge volcano that is deep underground. The last time this volcano erupted was about 70,000 years ago.

Earthquakes occur when fault lines diverge and magma, water and gas move beneath the surface. That is why there are so many geysers and hot springs in the park that receive energy as a result of these processes.

The eruption of Yellowstone volcano has occurred in the past, and several times. According to scientists, giant eruptions occur every 725 thousand years. If these data are correct, another similar eruption should be expected in about 100 thousand years. By the way, such a devastating eruption could destroy the entire United States, litter rivers with ash and cause drought and famine, scientists say.

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Consequences of super eruption

The eruption of a supervolcano will lead to super-powerful pyroclastic flows – real “hurricanes” of volcanic gases, rocks and ash, which will cover tens of thousands of square kilometers. 

No living thing will survive in this area. It will be impossible to grow crops outside the affected area – even a 1-centimeter layer of ash will make it almost impossible. There will also be acid rain, as a result of which the water in the reservoirs will become unusable. Also on the whole planet, the temperature may drop and the composition of the atmosphere may change.


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