Each year at about this time stories pop up in the news about "Yellowstone Earthquake Swarms."

News sites love the headlines. They get attention and cause people to click on the story. That is, after all, how they make a living.

It is true that Yellowstone did have a busy earthquake year in 2021.

The report by the USGS monitored Steamboat Geyser and found that its continued pattern of eruptions reduced from 48 eruptions to about 20 eruptions in 2021 - not alarming at all. But the overall number of earthquakes radiating from Yellowstone increased from 1,722 to 2,773 in 2021. The total number of 2,773 was higher than the usual average of 1,500 to 2,500 the USGS expects a year. Of those earthquakes, only four were felt by humans, with the largest being a 3.6 earthquake in July. For reference, the Richter Scale measures earthquakes from 1 (mild) to 9 (extreme).

I've heard those who believe in human-caused catastrophic climate change say that earthquake swarms at Yellowstone are proof that our use of "fossil fuels" are destroying the planet, even though the swarms have been happening for millions of years.

I once heard a minister who is popular across the region, Wyoming, Montana, and The Dakotas, say that it was proof of the Biblical signs of the end times. I actually wrote that minister a polite note with a link to the information I am about to give you.

Sorry, doomsdayers. Nothing unusual is happening.

Seismograph instrument recording ground motion during earthquake
Tomislav Zivkovic

Earthquake swarms—sequences of elevated earthquake activity with no clear mainshock—are common at Yellowstone and many other places. Some swarms are driven by slow fault slip that causes earthquakes on few sticky patches of the fault.  Other swarms are generated when magma-filled cracks push their way through the crust.  And perhaps most commonly, swarms can be generated when aqueous fluids (water) enter and interact with pre-existing faults in the crust. (U.S. Geological Survey website).

In other words, swarms are natural. They are happening all the time in places around the world, like Yellowstone. In most cases the quakes are so small humans can't feel them.

Swarms in Yellowstone pick up a bit in the springtime. The snow is melting and seeping into the hot ground in the park.

Lane V. Erickson // Shutterstock
Lane V. Erickson // Shutterstock

A primary distinction between magma and water as a driving mechanism is the width of the crack required for the fluid to move through the crust.  While water can travel through very small preexisting cracks or faults within the crust, magma requires a much thicker crack to allow the magma to continue to propagate without quickly cooling and solidifying.  (U.S. Geological Survey website).

So these swarms are not just caused by magma, but water seeping into the crack, heating up, and causing more cracks.

Seismograph with paper in action and earthquake - 3D Rendering

These events are always happening, all over the Earth. They have always happened and continue to this day.

It is not the sign of the rapture. It is just a planet doing what planets do.

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