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Series Of Minor Earthquakes Continue In Yellowstone

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Date: January 22, 2010
Contact: Al Nash , 307-344-2015

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior


Yellowstone National Park

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190



January 22, 2010            10-004A

Al Nash 307-344-2015








Series Of Minor Earthquakes Continue In Yellowstone


A series of micro to moderate earthquakes continue to shake some visitors and residents in and near Yellowstone National Park.


The activity is centered in the northwest corner of the Yellowstone Caldera, in the backcountry roughly half-way between Old Faithful and the community of West Yellowstone, Montana.


As of 9:00 a.m. MST Friday, January 22, 1,033 earthquakes had been recorded since the swarm began occurring on Sunday afternoon, January 17. 


Ten of the earthquakes have been magnitude 3.0 or greater, with a 3.8 magnitude earthquake recorded late Wednesday evening. The larger quakes have been felt by people in Old Faithful, West Yellowstone, Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs, Grant Village, Madison, and Gardiner.  No damage or injuries have been reported.


Scientists are confident that the current earthquake activity is due to the shifting and changing pressures in the earth’s crust, and not to any change or increase in volcanic activity in Yellowstone.


The park is using this occasion to reinforce earthquake preparedness, and to remind both employees and visitors how the unique and active geologic nature of the park has resulted in the creation of the world’s largest collection of geysers, hot springs, and other hydrothermal features.


Yellowstone averages about 1,600 earthquakes a year, and recorded 1,652 earthquakes in 2009.

The park has experienced 80 earthquake swarms in the last 15 years. The last swarm of 133 very small earthquakes occurred in mid October 2009 near Heart Lake, in the south-central portion of the park. 


This earthquake activity is being monitored ’round-the-clock by staff of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a cooperative effort of the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the University of Utah.


Generally, earthquakes less than a magnitude 3.0 are not felt by people. It typically takes an earthquake of magnitude 4.0 or greater to cause structural damage, and a magnitude 6.5 earthquake to cause the surface of the ground to rupture.


A continually updated map and list of earthquakes in Yellowstone is available online at

http://www.seis.utah.edu/req2webdir/recenteqs/Maps/Yellowstone.html.   More information on the Yellowstone volcano and the park’s geothermal systems can be found on the Greater Yellowstone Science Learning Center web site http://www.greateryellowstonescience.org.


- www.nps.gov/yell -


(Corrected from earlier version)

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