The US Geological Survey (USGS) has attempted to dispel concerns voiced by many commenters online that the recent earthquakes in California could trigger an eruption of the supervolcano at Yellowstone.
Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS’ Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Michael Poland has written in his Caldera Chronicles column that although such tremors might trigger microearthquakes at some volcanoes, they are still unlikely to result in eruptions.
The USGS pointed out that such powerful earthquakes are not all that rare on the US west coast, noting that there have been more than 100 quakes with magnitude 6 and fewer than a dozen 7 magnitude quakes over the last century in the US.
Although most of them have hit California, none of them have triggered volcanic eruptions at Yellowstone.
“In 1992, there was a M7.3 quake – the Landers earthquake – about 25 miles (40 km) north of Palm Springs in southern California. And in 1999, there was an M7.1 event – the Hector Mine earthquake – about 55 miles (90 km) north of Palm Springs. Neither of these caused an eruption, in Yellowstone or anywhere elsewhere”, the scientist concluded.
Poland also noted that even if an earthquake occurs near a volcano, this does not matter, pointing out that the Yellowstone supervolcano did not erupt despite a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in the national park decades ago.
As the USGS researcher noted, there was “a spike in Internet searches” on the possibility that Yellowstone volcanoes might erupt, with some addressing their concerns directly to the country’s geological services.
California was hit by two major earthquakes last week: a 6.4 magnitude quake on Thursday, followed by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake Friday night. The latter quake is said to be the largest to hit southern California in over 20 years.
At least 159 aftershocks of magnitude 2.5 or greater were recorded after the first earthquake on 4 July, Sputnik reported. owever, despite the magnitude of both earthquakes, there were no reported deaths as a result. The quakes did, however, result in several gas leaks and fires in southern California.