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In the aftermath of the magnitudes 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that struck Southern California consecutively on July 4th and 5th, some experts are now sounding the alarm about the very real potential for this sudden uptick in West Coast rumbling to potentially trigger an eruption of the infamous Yellowstone “supervolcano.”
Though some mainstream news outlets are denying the threat of an impending Yellowstone event, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has indicated that more, and possibly bigger, earthquakes are on the way, including the so-called “Big One” that many residents of the Golden State have been anticipating for decades.
“(These quakes do) not make (the Big One) less likely,” local seismologist Lucy Jones reportedly told the Los Angeles Times. “There is about a one in 20 chance that this location will be having an even bigger earthquake in the next few days, that we have not yet seen the biggest earthquake of the sequence.”
How this all relates to Yellowstone has to do with California’s vast underground network of fault lines, and the ways in which they interact with one another. Most of these fault lines have been quiet for way too long, and now that they’re beginning to “wake up,” it would appear as though some major changes are occurring within the magma chambers.
“We’re unusually quiet,” stated Glenn Biasi, author of a recently study entitled, The Current Unlikely Earthquake Hiatus. “The biggest faults and the faults carrying most of the slip have not ponied up.”
Based on records dating back about 1,000 years, the three most well-known fault lines in California, the San Andreas Fault, the Hayward Fault, and the San Jacinto Fault, have been silent for so long, in tandem, that there should have been at least six “Big Ones” by now. The fact that there hasn’t suggests that California is well overdue for some major events still to come.
And as far as Yellowstone is concerned, all of the shifting around that’s still expected in California will almost certainly fan out towards the Midwest, triggering other quakes and potential eruptions like dominoes falling one after another.
“The potential for damaging earthquakes, landslides, floods, tsunamis and wildfires is widely recognized in California,” a USGS report explains.
“The same cannot be said for volcanic eruptions, even though they occur in the state about as frequently as the largest earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault.”
The fact that seven of the eight known volcanoes in California sit above “active” magma chambers lends even further to the notion that we’re not just dealing with earthquake potential, here: We’re also dealing with “eruption” potential, the likes of which most Americans probably can’t even fathom.
According to the USGS, some 200,000 people are currently classified as “at-risk” of impact, should an eruption occur – though official USGS statistics claim that the likelihood of such an eruption event occurring within the next 30 years is only about 16 percent.
But in all reality, there’s really no way to accurately predict exactly when the next eruption will occur, especially since California’s volcanic areas have similarly been quiet for rather long periods of time.
“The Earth’s molten heart is always on the move,” one report explains.
“Movements deep beneath the crust are believed to be behind the North Pole’s shifting magnetic field. There’s a magnetic ‘anomaly’ in the South Atlantic that’s even giving some satellites headaches … The geysers at Yellowstone National Park – which sits above the world’s biggest ‘supervolcano’ – have been acting erratically … Is there any link?”
While the USGS officially denies that a surface quake in California will have any substantial impact on Yellowstone in our lifetime, the agency’s experts do admit that they remain baffled at the “shifting patterns in normally regular geyser eruptions” – which suggests that all bets are now off, and really anything could happen.
For more related news, be sure to check out FutureScienceNews.com.
Sources for this article include:
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