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Yellowstone National Park: Quake No Cause For Panic

Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone National Park
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Old Faithful Geyser

Yellowstone National Park took to Facebook today to tamp down ongoing speculation that a cataclysmic seismic event is imminent.

Jeff Hungerford is the park’s chief geologist and volcanologist.

Sitting in front of Mammoth Hot Springs, Hungerford told his Facebook Live audience the Yellowstone region’s recent earthquake swarm is perfectly normal:

“They can make up about 50-percent of our earthquakes that we have yearly," Hungerford said. "It happens all the time. It’s why we’re here. Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful, wonderful place because it is an active area.”

Yes, says Hungerford, the Yellowstone Park region lies atop a volcano.

No, he adds, a devastating eruption is not at hand:

“We’ve had three (eruptions) in the past 2.1-million-years," he said.  "Three is not a great number to create a statistical value of any worth. We probably in our lifetimes will definitely not see any eruption."

Hungerford reiterated that Wednesday morning’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered a few miles southeast of Lincoln, Montana had no connection to Yellowstone’s recent swarm of small quakes.

The current swarm is ongoing, though it’s starting to taper off, according to the University of Utah’s Seismology Station. The station has recorded more than a thousand quakes since June 12; the largest, a magnitude 4.4 quake, was recorded on June 15.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.
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