Volcano Updates

Alert Level: NORMAL, Color Code: GREEN 2020-09-01 16:28:32

U.S. Geological Survey
Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 10:28 AM MDT (Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 16:28 UTC)

44°25'48" N 110°40'12" W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Recent work and news

YVO wishes everyone continued safety and health during these challenging times.

August field work in Yellowstone National Park included the deployment of hundreds of nodal seismometers. These temporary stations, each the size of a coffee can and deployed throughout the park, are designed to record seismic waves that are generated by a special vibroseis truck and that will bounce off the top of the mostly-solid magma chamber beneath Yellowstone Caldera. The seismic experiment, which will run in September, will provide the highest-resolution views of the subsurface ever collected at Yellowstone!

August was a spectacular month for geysers in Yellowstone. Steamboat Geyser erupted five times during the month, on August 3, 9, 14, 20, and 26, bringing the total number of eruptions for the year to 34. In addition, on August 26 Giantess Geyser, in the Upper Geyser Basin not far from Old Faithful, erupted for the first time in over six and a half years! Geyser activity like this is common and is not a reflection of deeper volcanic processes, but it is a spectacular sight to behold.


During August 2020, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 82 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region. The largest event was a minor earthquake of magnitude 2.6 located 7 miles west of Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, on August 20 at 11:12 PM MDT.

A small swarm of 12 earthquakes occurred about 12 miles north-northeast of Old Faithful on August 18. The largest swarm event was a micro earthquake of magnitude 0.9 on August 18 at 4:07 AM (MDT).

Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region.

Yellowstone earthquake activity remains at background levels.

Ground deformation

Deformation rates and styles at Yellowstone, as recorded by continuous GPS stations, have not changed significantly in many months. Subsidence of Yellowstone Caldera, which has been ongoing since 2015, continued at an average rate of 2-3 cm (about 1 in) per year. In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, little deformation has been detected by a nearby GPS station since the start of 2020.

An example of GPS data can be found at http://www.unavco.org/instrumentation/networks/status/pbo/data/NRWY (click on Static Plots / Cleaned)

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey


Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge