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4.6 earthquake at Yellowstone: USGS deleted it

There have been a series of quakes at Yellowstone that have been collected as data on the recent quakes page, but then deleted. I don't know why. Quake swarms are common at Yellowstone because it is the site of seismic activity after all, and also the site of a supervolcano that has magma on the move. But with the recent mega-swarm that caused so much panic last year, it behooves us to watch the location closely. But why were the quakes deleted from USGS lists? They are still captured on Intellicast maps, and are properly sourced to USGS. One of the quakes was a 4.6, which is an unusually large quake for the area.

Here are the links to check it out for yourself:
Intellicast quake maps
USGS Recent Quakes
Look on the USGS list for Feb 11-12 quakes. USGS doesn't have any, but Intellicast does- citing USGS. Look at the screen shot of the Lat-Long for Feb 12:

The red box indicates a 4.0+ sized quake on that date in that latitude and longitude. Now look at a screen shot of the same Lat-Long a day later. The 4.6 quake is gone, along with most of the others...

Also gone are most of the other quakes, and they are removed from the list on the Recent Quakes page, too. None for MT, UT or WY except for one 2.5 quake in Utah. File it under things that make me go "Hmmm."

Related posts:
Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells
Yellowstone has lava plume on the rise
The language of God: earthquakes


  1. I had the same question about Yellowstone last week. There was a discussion on "Eruptions" (link will follow) part way down the comments section on Feb. 5. Here is the answer I was given: (begin quote) Boris Behncke on February 5, 2011, 3:32 PM
    @Columbine, one thing with earthquake data is that nowadays nearly everything is recorded and calculated automatically first. Events that appear suspicious for one or another reason are checked by seismologists, and sometimes removed from the list. This is not censorship but a more precise analysis because seismic records can contain a variety of errors and artifacts that no one of you would ever imagine. Just one example. Last week, our seismic network in Sicily recorded something that was automatically calculated as a magnitude 3.6 earthquake in the Messina area, northeast Sicily. While that is not a strong earthquake, it would have required the on-duty staff in the control room to send a formal communiqué to Civil Defense and the Prefecture and a number of other organisms involved in disaster prevention efforts. One glimpse at the individual seismograms from Etna, the Messina area and the Aeolian Islands made it clear, that there had been an explosion at the summit of Etna – about 50 km south of the automatically calculated epicenter; the explosion signal had been picked up by 5 seismic stations nearest to Etna’s summit. Nearly simultaneously, there had been a very small earthquake – something like magnitude 1.5 – in the Aeolian Islands. The computer program that does the automatic calculation of earthquake magnitudes and locations thus received the information about some earthquake from five stations on Etna and one station on the Aeolian Islands, about 80 km away. It thus calculated the location for the earthquake somewhere midway between the Aeolian Islands and Etna, and from the distance between the various stations – up to 80 km – it calculated a magnitude that was vastly exaggerated.

  2. "Michele" is the person asked about the planetary alignment. (quote now continued)As for the planetary alignment and solar activity question, I (who Michele has hinted at as possessing an academic title and working in a government institution – which understandably in Italy can seem suspicious) have to look at things from a practical side rather than a theoretical one. Theoretically, nearly everything is possible, but this knowledge does not help us much when it comes down to having to deal with millions of people who live near restless volcanoes and deciding whether to have them evacuated or not. For this it is useless to say that there might be some increased volcanism in 2011 or 2012. Planetary alignment or not, a number of volcanoes WILL erupt, and THAT is the problem, not whether there will be a few more or a few less. The volcanoes that DO erupt are what we have to deal with. And there, we have to look at the whole story that leads to an eruption. In the case of Eyjafjallajökull, the earliest signs of an imminent eruption were noted no less than 18 years before its outbreak last year. The main factors influencing the process eventually leading to eruption were the rate of magma generation in the reservoir feeding Eyjafjallajökull, the quantity and composition of different gas species, the interplay of different batches of magma and so on. Equally, what determines an earthquake is maybe a tiny bit of an influence coming from outside the Earth. But then there is the rock that is on both sides of a fault plane that is locked and will one day rupture. What counts is the mechanical strength of these rocks, their temperature, and how much water is in there and if maybe water is added, the rate at which the plates on both sides of a fault move, in what direction, at what angle - these are the primary factors that determine when, where, and how an earthquake will occur. As we can see, these are a multitude of factors, so having a possible minor influence from elsewhere every now and then, does not very much change the whole package.

    Last thing before I go to bed tonight. I remember how much talk there was about a “line-up” of planets in our solar system in 1982, and how this would lead to extraordinary volcanism and seismic activity. In the end, 1982 was a pretty normal year in both respects. There were a few dramatic eruptions but none that were extraordinary, and in terms of earthquakes much less happened in 1982 than in, say, 1976 or 2010. So these are the things that I know because I lived through those moments. A lot has been said about the possible disastrous consequences of this or that exotic factor, but in my nearly 50 years of life, it has never happened. This is why I am not exactly excited about it.(end quote)

  3. for an explanation of what is happening.

  4. Hey people – I think that the USGS is trying to hide what’s going on in Yellowstone – if you go to the link sited in the above comment you get this explanation:

    "Ice and Snow at Yellowstone Cause Telemetry Problems
    • Recent telemetry problems, from ice and snow buildup on data transmission antennas, have caused intermittent malfunctions of the University of Utah's automated earthquake location system. The malfunctions result in false earthquake reports, which upon review, are then manually deleted from the earthquake catalog. The snow and ice buildup interferes with the continuous streaming of seismic data causing occasional signal dropouts. The dropouts cause spikes to appear in the data streams, which the automated system misinterprets as the abrupt appearance of a high amplitude seismic wave from an earthquake. Windy conditions, common this time of year, exacerbate the problem by contributing additional noise and thereby reducing the overall signal quality of the seismic data streams. In most cases, seismologists at the University of Utah can overcome these problems and still identify and locate earthquakes correctly. Seismic activity at Yellowstone remains at background levels.

    by checking the webicorder displays one can easily discern whether an actual earthquake has occurred."

    I went and checked the display for the 12th using the site they label as YMR and it sure looks like a real event - even when using their own tutorial to identify real quakes – they just hope that people won’t actually go to the displays and check themselves-


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