Old Faithfull, the most iconic geyser from the Yellowstone National Park, has changed its activity patterns after an earthquake took place six decades ago. UGSS researcher is worried about what could happen if a similar Yellowstone eruption event took place in the future.
The Yellowstone caldera is spread between the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and is monitored by the UGS due to the fact that Yellowstone used to be supervolcano in the past. Current seismic activity is far from being considered dangerous massive earthquakes have been observed in the past.
One of the most notable earthquake examples is represented by the Lake Hebgen earthquake, which took place on August 17, 1959. With a magnitude of 7.5, the earthquake led to massive material damage and caused 28 deaths.
Possible Yellowstone eruption ignited USGS fears
The potential of a new eruption of the supervolcano remains a hot topic and is often featured in the news article. However, USGS has released a press statement where it explains why it is important to monitor seismic activity in the long run. Especially since earthquakes can occur more often in comparison to a volcanic eruption.
When the 1959 earthquake took place, an offset of 20 feet was created around the Hebgen Lake and the Red Canyon faults, and it is visible even today. A series of rock slides compromised several roads between the park and the fall of a large rock chimney damaged Old Faithful.
In less than one day after the earthquake, more than 289 geyser springs erupted, with 160 being new as there were no records of a previous eruption. Hot springs began to clear after a while, but several years passed before the process was complete.
New fractures and hot grounds were also observed as trees died in some areas. Several fractures evolved into fumaroles, hot springs or geysers. The activity Old Faithful became more chaotic, a potential consequence of the earthquake, even a Yellowstone eruption.