Volcano Updates

Alert Level: NORMAL, Color Code: GREEN 2021-09-01 18:50:25

U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 12:50 PM MDT (Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 18:50 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

August is a busy season for visitors in Yellowstone, but most geologic work during the month happened in the lab and office, with Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientists analyzing data collected during the first few months of the summer. One exception was work on Yellowstone Lake, where geologists collected core samples from the lake bottom that will help better identify and understand past hydrothermal explosions, the deposits of which are preserved as distinct layers in the sediments that make up the lake floor.

Steamboat Geyser did not erupt during the month of August, and the total number of eruptions for the year remains 13. The time between major Steamboat water eruptions is lengthening, which probably indicates that the geyser is entering a period of quiescence. This is typical behavior for Steamboat, with the geyser experiencing few-year periods of frequent eruptions separated by years to decades of very few eruptions. The most recent eruption of Steamboat Geyser was on July 8. In mid-late August, a sequence of minor eruptions started at the geyser, and these usually precede major water eruptions, so the show is probably not quite over yet.


During August 2021, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 97 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region—a sharp decrease after more than 1000 events were located during the month of July. The largest event of the past month was a minor earthquake of magnitude 3.1 located 12 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, MT, on August 20 at 11:00 AM MDT.

Although there was some minor ongoing seismicity that continued from July's energetic swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake, no swarm activity was observed in August.

Yellowstone earthquake activity returned to background levels.

Ground deformation

Subsidence of Yellowstone Caldera, which has been ongoing since 2015, has paused during the summer months, reflecting seasonal groundwater recharge. Every summer, water from snow melt causes the ground to swell slightly, resulting in a pause in subsidence trends or even a minor amount of uplift (less than 1 cm / fraction of an inch). In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, no significant uplift or subsidence 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, Montana State University, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey


Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge