Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Monthly Update for October 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 October 2020.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:05:04

Location Taken: Vancouver, WA, US

Video Credits

Video edited by Liz Westby


- Hi everyone, I'm Mike Poland, the Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. And I'm here today with the monthly update for November 1st of 2020. Now, before we start talking about what happened in Yellowstone during the month of October, I wanted to show you some of the equipment used for monitoring activity in the Yellowstone region. I'm coming to you today from the warehouse at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. This is where we do a lot of equipment development and store things that we aren't using for the winter, for volcanoes all over the United States. Some of the equipment that we use for monitoring looks at deformation, how the ground moves, especially GPS stations. We've got over two dozen continuous GPS stations located in and around Yellowstone that monitor this ground motion. But we also deploy temporary GPS sites. These aren't radio connected. So we deployed them in May after the snow melts, and we pick them up usually in September, October, download the data. And it gives us a little bit of extra information about ground deformation in the Yellowstone region. And I wanted to show you one of those sites right here we just picked up in October from Yellowstone. Now, this particular site was deployed in Hayden Valley. There's a small GPS antenna, which is attached to a pin on the ground. And that's the only permanent thing that's left on-site. So it has a very small environmental impact, and a very small footprint. So this antenna is cemented to the ground, and it's connected to this box behind me by an antenna cable. We also have a solar array, which is sitting on the ground, that provides power. In the box itself we have a couple of batteries, that are charged by that solar array, and a GPS receiver. So this little compact unit right here is capable of measuring ground deformation down to a fractions of an inch, millimeters of motion. And we deploy these every May and pick them up in October. And it sorta doubles the amount of GPS data we get from Yellowstone. So in addition to having those continuous sensors all over and around the park, we have these temporary sensors that give us a little bit of extra information during the summer months. And that's very helpful for understanding how the ground moves in the Yellowstone region. Okay, with that, let's talk about what happened during the month of October. The University of Utah Seismograph Station, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, recorded just 86 earthquakes during the month of October in the Yellowstone region, mostly spread out throughout the region, but you can see there's a bit of a concentration between Hebgen Lake and the Norris Area. And this has traditionally been the most seismically-active area of the region. The largest earthquake of the month was a magnitude 2.1 that occurred near the Norris Geyser Basin on October 2nd. And there was no swarm seismicity during the month. Turning to deformation, we've seen a continuation of the trends of the past several years. This is vertical deformation over the last two years at the White Lake GPS Station. This is on the east side of the caldera, on the Sour Lake Resurgent Zone. Each one of these blue dots is a single day worth of data, and downward trends indicate subsidence, whereas upward trends indicate uplift. You can see over the past two years that the dominant trend has been subsidence by two or three centimeters per year. That's about an inch or so per year, interrupted in the summer and early fall months by these small bits of no subsidence, that's sort of a seasonal effect that we see every year, here in the summer of 2019, and again, in the summer of 2020. If we move to the other side of the caldera, the west side near Old Faithful and the Mallard Lake Resurgent Dome, the story is the same. Overall subsidence over the last couple of years at a rate of two centimeters or so, a little bit less than an inch per year. And finally moving to the Norris Geyser Basin, there hasn't been a whole lot of change there in the last couple of years. You can see no real trends in these data. That's because Norris stopped uplifting in 2018. And since that time it's been largely stagnant, no uplift or subsidence. In terms of geyser activity, Steamboat continues to be active. Steamboat's now had 42 water eruptions during the year, during 2020. There were four of them in October. This is the temperature of water in the outlet from Steamboat Geyser. These small variations between the activity are just air temperature, that's when there's no water in the channel. And then as the geyser builds up towards eruption, we see more and more minor activity, culminating in an eruption. And then the temperatures drop back down to air temperature as the geyser channel dries out. So there were four eruptions during the month, October the 5th, October the 14th, October the 19th and finally here on October 27th. And of course, as the month ended, we started building up to what will certainly be another eruption in early November. Well, that does it for the Yellowstone update for November 1st of 2020. Now remember, if you have any questions at all, you can feel free to email us anytime at yvoebteam, all one word, Thanks very much, hope you're all staying safe and healthy, and have a great November. We'll see you in December, take care.