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After two strong earthquakes hit in California last week, there was a spike in internet searches for Yellowstone caldera and Yellowstone volcano. The quakes—a magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 on July 4 and 5 respectively—had apparently raised fears an eruption at the supervolcano could be triggered by these events. Related search terms, according to Google Trends, included "California earthquake" and "the big one California."
But these fears are completely unfounded, the USGS has said. In an article on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory website, scientist-in-charge Mike Poland has explained what impact earthquakes have on volcanic activity—and why the quakes in California will not cause Yellowstone to erupt.
Earthquakes - Occurrence - US - Region - Fault
He said that strong earthquakes are not a rare occurrence for the western U.S. The region is covered in fault lines—an interactive map of them can be found here. Fault lines are cracks in the Earth's crust that have the potential to trigger earthquakes when they move around.
"Since 1900, in the continental U.S. there have nearly 100 earthquakes greater than M6, and there have been nine greater than M7 (both of these numbers go up if you include Canada and Mexico)," Poland wrote. "Most of these events are in California, but they have also occurred in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. If we assume that rate is representative of the average, that means there would be about 10 M7+ events per century in the western USA."
Years - Yellowstone - Time - Earthquakes—none - Eruption
It has been 70,000 years since Yellowstone last erupted. Over this time, there may have been over 7,000 strong earthquakes—none of which have led to an eruption at Yellowstone. Poland also said that the distance of the earthquake to Yellowstone does not matter—in 1959 a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit on the Montana-Idaho border, on the boundary of the National Park, but there was still no eruption.
California also has its...
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