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Monthly update of activity at Yellowstone Volcano, April 1, 2023

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Do animals prank humans? It sometimes feels that way, says Yellowstone Volcano Observatory’s scientist-in-charge Mike Poland. Mike shows some of the ways animals have “interacted” with monitoring equipment in this April 1, 2023 monthly update of activity at Yellowstone Volcano.

Herds of elk or bison make a lot of noise when they walk by a monitoring station. The noise is picked up by the seismometer and the sudden burst of activity in a data feed might cause some to be concerned. Fortunately, that noise can be filtered out so seismologists will still see small earthquakes even when the herds are walking by. It's funny to think that maybe these animals are pranking us as they stomp around the station. Seismometers used for research deployments have been kicked by animals, making us wonder if perhaps the bison saw the seismometer and decided to play soccer with it.

Animals also interact with some of the permanent monitoring stations. Like humans, animals are curious and when they see new things, they might go up to investigate. Field teams have seen plenty of evidence of bison nose prints on solar panels or bear paw prints on solar panels. Occasionally, some of the smaller animals find the wiring to be interesting and yank the wires right out of the instrument boxes.

Animal interactions can sometimes cause the instruments to go down, requiring repair work. But the extra effort for YVO field teams comes with the territory. Decisions about where to install stations are carefully made and include the need to coexist with animals and the environment.

During the month of March 2023:

  • The University of Utah Seismograph Stations, which monitors and operates the Yellowstone seismic network, located 354 earthquakes, which includes two seismic swarms.
  • Deformation trends continue, with overall subsidence of about two to three centimeters (about an inch) per year, and very little deformation in the Norris Geyser Basin.
  • There were no recorded Steamboat Geyser eruptions.

Yellowstone Volcano remains at normal, background levels of activity.

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