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Yellowstone Volcano Observatory 2018 annual report

February 3, 2021

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) monitors volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with the Yellowstone magmatic system, conducts research into magmatic processes occurring beneath Yellowstone Caldera, and issues timely warnings and guidance related to potential future geologic hazards. This report summarizes the activities and findings of YVO during the year 2018, focusing on the Yellowstone magmatic system. The most noteworthy seismic activity of the year was a February swarm of hundreds of earthquakes in the same area as the 2017 Maple Creek earthquake swarm. The February 2018 activity is viewed as a continuation of the 2017 swarm. Ground deformation trends were mostly unchanged throughout the year, with uplift of the Norris Geyser Basin area and subsidence of the caldera.

Field work in 2018, conducted under research permits granted by the National Park Service, included routine maintenance visits to seismic and geodetic stations as well as deployment of a semipermanent Global Positioning System network during the summer months; installation of an eddy covariance system for tracking carbon dioxide emissions and heat flux near Norris Geyser Basin; deployment of nodal seismic arrays on Geyser Hill, near Steamboat Geyser, and around Yellowstone Lake; and collection of water and gas samples from the Bechler River area in the southwest part of Yellowstone National Park. In addition, examination of satellite thermal imagery resulted in the discovery of a new thermal area on the east side of the Sour Creek resurgent dome, near west Tern Lake. This thermal area appears to have started forming in the early 2000s; before then it was an area of healthy forest. The year might best be remembered, however, for some extraordinary geyser and hot spring activity, specifically at Steamboat Geyser and Ear Spring.