Some faulty readings from a seismometer tracking activity in the Yellowstone National Park area has some folks predicting an impending Yellowstone volcano eruption, but U.S. Geological Survey officials say the data is bad.
The issue: Borehole seismometer “B944,” located near the West Thumb region of Yellowstone National Park, has been malfunctioning in recent weeks, with strong bursts of electronic noise contaminating its data. This data has been passed along to public “webicorders” — graphics depicting seismic data — on the University of Utah Seismograph Station (UUSS) website, a popular place for earthquake trackers to hang out and collect data. Based on the electronic noise from B944, the conclusion has been that the Yellowstone volcano eruption was imminent. “These noise bursts appear as wild excursions on the B944 webicorders that can appear alarming to the inexperienced eye,” writes USGS scientist Jacob Lowenstern.
Why does this matter? Amateur earthquake watchers fall into two camps. Some are purely interested in Yellowstone earthquake activity and how it may impact the rest of the country. Another group sees a Yellowstone volcano eruption as a sign of end times, a cataclysmic event that would wipe out two-thirds of the United States and, in fact, there are predictions about the specific date of the next Yellowstone volcano eruption. (Keep March 28, 2014 open, just in case.)
In any case, take solace in the fact that earthquake activity in Yellowstone has been at normal levels for the past several months, and there’s no Yellowstone volcano eruption imminent.