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And in 2017, nearly 60 years and 11 presidents later, the Hebgen Lake quake shook Yellowstone again. A swarm of more than 3,000 small earthquakes in the Maple Creek area (in Yellowstone National Park but outside of the Yellowstone volcano caldera) between June 2017 and March 2018 are, at least in part, aftershocks of the 1959 quake. That's according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters by University of Utah geoscientists led by Guanning Pang and Keith Koper.
"These kinds of earthquakes in Yellowstone are very common," says Koper, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. "These swarms happen very frequently. This one was a little bit longer and had more events than normal."
Risk - Eruption - Pang
"We don't think it will increase the risk of an eruption," Pang adds.
Taken together, the more than 3,000 small quakes of the Maple Creek swarm can be divided into two clusters. The northern cluster consists of Hebgen Lake aftershocks. The quakes fell along the same fault line, and were oriented the same way, as the Hebgen Lake event. Also, the team didn't see signs that the northern cluster was caused by movement of magma and other fluids beneath the ground.
Koper - Pang - Aftershocks - Earthquake - Decades
Koper and Pang says it's not unheard of for aftershocks of a large earthquake to continue decades after the initial event. Pang, for example, has also studied aftershocks...
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