Yellowstone Monthly Update - June 2020

Release Date:

Yellowstone Volcano remains at GREEN/NORMAL. Yellowstone National Park is open and seasonal field work began last month. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations located 288 earthquakes in May that occurred as part of three swarms. Ground deformation remains unchanged from last month.

Yellowstone Volcano remains at NORMAL/GREEN for the June 1, 2020 update.

Recent work and news

YVO wishes everyone continued safety and health during these challenging times.

Thanks to the reopening of Yellowstone National Park, it has been possible to accomplish installations of monitoring equipment and maintenance work during the month of May. This has included the deployment of 15 temporary GPS stations to monitor ground deformation across the Park. These stations have been installed everey summer for the past decade and will be recovered in October, before the onset of the harsh Yellowstone winter. Maintenance was also done on the Norris Geyser Basin temperature-monitoring network.

Steamboat Geyser continues to be active, with five water eruptions in the past month, on May 8, 14, 19, 23, and 31. This brings the total number of eruptions for the year to 17.

Seismicity

During May 2020, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 288 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region. The largest event was a minor earthquake of magnitude 3.1 located 5 miles west of Norris Junction in Yellowstone National Park on May 29 at 4:39 AM MDT.

Three swarms occurred in the same area as the M3.1 earthquake, about 5 miles west of Norris Junction. A swarm spanning May 4–5 included 12 events, another during May 22–23 included 39 events, and May 29–30 included 100 earthquakes, one of which was the aforementioned largest of the month. The magnitude range for all of these swarms was from -0.2 to 3.1.

An additional swarm of 80 earthquakes was located about 10 miles north-northeast of West Yellowstone, MT, on May 9–11. The magnitude range for this swarm was -0.6 to 2.0.

Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region.

Yellowstone earthquake activity remains at background levels.

Ground deformation

The overall deformation style and rate at Yellowstone remains unchanged since the last update. Subsidence of Yellowstone caldera, which has been ongoing since 2015, continues at an average rate of 2-3 cm (about 1 in) per year. In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, little deformation has been detected by a nearby GPS station since the start of 2020.

An example of GPS data can be found at http://www.unavco.org/instrumentation/networks/status/pbo/data/NRWY (click on Static Plots / Cleaned)

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey

Video Transcript

Mike Poland, Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, gives an overview of activity at Yellowstone during May 2020.

Mike Poland, USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

(Public domain.)