With all eyes on
There is good news, and there is bad news. The good news first. The seismic network that monitors activity in and around the
The bad news is, there is so much scientists still have yet to learn about what makes mega quakes and supervolcanic eruptions occur when they do. While current research indicates possible links between global seismic activity, as well as links between large earthquakes and seismic activity beneath volcanic zones, predictions of when mega earthquakes or major volcanic eruptions will occur remain an elusive goal.
In our book Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event That Changed the Course of Human History, we documented new research by a number of sources, including USGS scientists, scientists from the Carnegie Institution, and from the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, CA (see pages 199-205). These studies noted several instances where seismic activity was triggered beneath volcanoes by the passage of seismic surface waves generated by large earthquakes that originated thousands of miles from the volcanoes.
In SuperVolcano, we focused mainly on the Southern San Andreas fault and the potential of a mega quake there triggering a supereruption at the nearby Long Valley caldera, which to this day remains, in our opinion, worth watching as much as Yellowstone. Yet the studies we cited also suggested that even
There has been research into whether quakes at the edge of one tectonic plate can trigger second quakes at different locations and times. In the January 31st issue of “Nature,” a team of researchers from Penn State University, California Institute of Technology and the
Though the team did not find direct cause, they labeled this a “doublet,” two earthquakes that are linked by the sequence of seismic activity. “Such large doublet earthquakes, though rare, could be an underestimated hazard,” Ammon stated in a story for Science Daily in February of 2008. “Within minutes of the Nov. 15 quake, seismic activity began on the Pacific plate in the area where the January earthquake would take place,” Ammon continued.
Another Science Daily story in December of 2008 showed links between L-waves, the slow moving seismic surface waves produced by large quakes, and smaller quakes. Seismologists led by Kris Pankow, assistant director of the
In 2004, scientists monitoring
But it doesn’t always happen. The story also quotes Smith as saying, “Based on geologic evidence,
Predicting a supereruption is quite difficult, because we have no written records of what exactly happens before it does occur. Continuous records at
Large quakes have been found to have a link to caldera uplift and deformations, but as Smith concludes, “How those intrusions stress the adjacent fault, or how the faults might transmit stress to the magma system, is a really important new area of study.”
In the meantime, the USGS makes available, via the Internet, the constant monitoring of the two main calderas we in the
And so for the good news…As of this week, all activity at both monitoring stations was normal.
That doesn’t mean something won’t happen. Nobody was prepared for
Dr. John Savino, Ph.D. is a geophysicist with a background in earthquakes and volcanoes. He has assisted the Department of Energy (DOE) in reviewing research conducted by earth scientists at several national laboratories and universities. Dr. Savino has also participated in the DOE’s Public Outreach Program, delivering presentations on earthquakes and volcanoes. He has presented papers at numerous scientific conferences and published articles in refereed journals, technical reports, and abstracts in conference and meeting programs. He lives in Big Bear Lake, California.
Marie D. Jones is the author of SuperVolcano, PSIence, 2013, 11:11 The Time Prompt Phenomenon, The Resonance Key, Deja Vu Enigma, Trinity Secret and Destiny vs. Choice. She lives in San Marcos, California.