January 3, 2008
Several more earthquakes rattled Yellowstone National Park on Friday, raising fears over the recent geological activity in the area.
Since Dec. 26, about 400 temblors have rumbled under the park, centered under the northern end of Yellowstone Lake. The small quakes Friday registered up to a magnitude of 3.5.
Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it’s very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, says Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.
“They’re certainly not normal,” Smith said. “We haven’t had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years.”
“Could it develop into a bigger fault or something related to hydrothermal activity? We don’t know. That’s what we’re there to do, to monitor it for public safety.”
Smith said it’s difficult to say what might be causing the tremors. He pointed out that Yellowstone is the caldera of a volcano that last erupted 70,000 years ago.