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Yellowstone Volcano Observatory 2022 annual report

May 4, 2023

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) monitors volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with the Yellowstone magmatic system, carries out 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 2022, focusing on the Yellowstone volcanic system. Highlights of YVO research and related activities during 2022 include deployments of seismometers in Norris Geyser Basin and Upper Geyser Basin to investigate interactions between hydrothermal features and influences from external influences, geological studies of post-glacial hydrothermal activity, refining the ages of Yellowstone volcanic units and updating existing maps of geologic deposits, new mapping of ash-flow deposits on the Sour Creek dome, installation of a new continuous gas monitoring station near Mud Volcano, sampling of gas emissions and thermal waters around Yellowstone National Park to monitor water chemistry over space and time, research into the age and history of Steamboat Geyser in Norris Geyser Basin, and assessment of thermal output based on satellite imagery and chloride flux in rivers.

The most noteworthy event of the year was not geophysical, but meteorological. Combined runoff from rain and snowmelt caused substantial flooding in Yellowstone National Park, which caused damage to park roads and infrastructure. Steamboat Geyser, in Norris Geyser Basin, continued the pattern of frequent eruptions that began in 2018 with 11 water eruptions in 2022, the lowest number of annual eruptions in the current eruptive sequence. Total seismicity—2,429 located earthquakes—was slightly less than the 2,773 earthquakes located in 2021 and at the upper end of the historical average range of about 1,500–2,500 earthquakes per year. Overall subsidence of the caldera floor, ongoing since late 2015 or early 2016, continued at rates of a few centimeters (1–2 inches) per year. Satellite deformation measurements indicated the possibility of slight uplift amounting to about 1 centimeter (less than 1 inch) along the north caldera rim in 2021, but satellite data spanning 2022 show no uplift in that area. Throughout 2022, the aviation color code for Yellowstone Caldera remained at “green” and the volcano alert level remained at “normal.”

Publication Year 2023
Title Yellowstone Volcano Observatory 2022 annual report
DOI 10.3133/cir1508
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Circular
Series Number 1508
Index ID cir1508
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center