Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Monthly Update: January 2, 2020

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Detailed Description

Mike Poland, Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, gives an overview of activity at Yellowstone during 2019, with an emphasis on the month of December.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:03:43

Location Taken: WY, US

Video Credits

Video edited by Liz Westby


- Happy new year everybody. I'm Mike Poland, the Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and I'm here with the update for January of 2020. When we talk about what happened at Yellowstone over the last month. But before we dive into the specifics, I wanted to discuss, maybe a little bit what happened in 2019, sort of give an overview for the year. Now I think most people know that it was a great year for Steamboat. It had 48 water eruptions, which absolutely smashes the previous record set just in 2018 when it had 32 eruptions. So, Steamboat is still going strong and no signs that it's gonna stop anytime soon. In terms of seismicity though, it was actually a below average year. You can see our seismicity for the year was spread pretty much throughout the Yellowstone region with the usual concentrations in various places here and there, especially just to the north/northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana. There were only 1217 earthquakes located by the University of Utah's seismograph stations over the course of the year. That's below average. Typically, we'd see about 1500 to 2500 earthquakes a year. So, seismicity on the lighter side but Steamboat still going strong. Okay, let's get to the update for what happened in the month of December of 2019. December seismicity, as recorded by the University of Utah seismograph stations included only 87 earthquakes in the Yellowstone region. Now here you can see the distribution of seismicity and it follows the patterns that were set pretty much throughout the year of 2019 with the largest event of the month just magnitude 3.5, just outside the western boundary of the park in Idaho. That occurred on December 15. In terms of deformation, we saw subsidence throughout the caldera are. This particular GPS station shows deformation in the White Lake area, which is on the Sour Creek Dome on the east-side of the caldera. And the downward trend in the vertical GPS means subsidence. Each one of these dots is the measurement on a specific day of the year over the course of 2019. And you can see over the year, the down dropping was about three centimeters, that's about an inch over the course of 2019. Moving over to the western side of the park and the Mallard Lake resurgent dome which is near Old Faithful, we see the same kind of pattern, overall down dropping with some minor seasonal variations. And again, the down dropping here was about three centimeters or about a little over an inch. And then finally, the Norris Geyser Basin which had been uplifting from 2015 to 2018. Now, in late 2018 that uplift stopped and you can see throughout 2019, for the most part, there was very little change at Norris. And then in September, Norris started to subside and over the last three months of 2019 we had subsidence that amounted to about two and half centimeters, which is just about an inch. So, subsidence at Norris and in the overall caldera area. And finally there's Steamboat Geyser. This is the temperature record from the Steamboat outlet channel. What you can see here are these increases in minor eruptive activity that lead up to every major eruption. Now, there is one on December 8. There's another right there on December 18. And finally, the third one of the month on December 26. So, these eruptions continue to fall with this pattern of increasing minor activity leading to a major eruption and then a drop in temperature as the geyser goes quiet before new minor activity starts again. So, Steamboat's keeping it up and these three eruptions brought the total for the year to 48 smashing that record that was set in 2018. Well that does it for the January update. If you have any questions you can always feel free to email us at yvowebteam, all one word, at Well, take care. We'll see you in February, until then have a happy 2020.