The Mw4.8 Norris Geyser Basin Earthquake of 30 March, 2014 and its Relationship to Crustal Deformation and Seismic Activity of the Yellowstone Volcanic System
Monday, 15 December 2014
The largest earthquake to be recorded in Yellowstone in over 30 years, a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, occurred on March 30, 2014 near the Norris Geyser Basin on the NW side of the 0.64 Ma Yellowstone caldera. The earthquake was felt throughout Yellowstone and the surrounding region. We analyze this unusual event using data from the Yellowstone Seismic and Geodetic networks in the context of active volcanic-tectonic processes of the Yellowstone volcanic system and its relationship to regional swarm seismicity and crustal deformation. Moment tensor analysis of the March 30 earthquake revealed a strike-slip, double-couple source mechanism with no isotropic contribution. This earthquake was part of a larger sequence of earthquake swarm activity in the Norris Geyser Basin area that began in September 2013 and continued into June 2014. During that period, 50-60% of the total seismicity recorded in Yellowstone, including nearly all of the swarm seismicity (earthquakes clustered in time and space), occurred in the Norris Geyser Basin area. In addition, GPS derived deformation data revealed unusually high uplift rates at ~15 cm/yr in the Norris area prior to the MW4.8 event, while a dramatic reversal to subsidence at rates of ~20 cm/yr occurred after the event. Regionally, the much larger Yellowstone caldera had experienced subsidence since January 2010 at rates of ~1.5 cm/yr prior to the MW4.8 event. After March 30, 2014 the caldera reversed to regional uplift at rates of ~10 cm/yr, similar to accelerated uplift rates observed in mid-2004.