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Yellowstone panic: How ‘all hell broke loose as park road swallowed cars’ | Science | News

The Yellowstone volcano is a huge caldera that lurks below the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It is referred to as a supervolcano due to its ability to inflict devastation on a global level and is constantly monitored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for any signs an eruption is on the way. Scientist-in-Charge Mike Poland recently revealed that there had been more than 135 earthquakes in the region in the last month, including a swarm of 78 located tremors.

While there are concerns over their possibility to trigger an eruption, the largest over this period was a 2.9 magnitude quake, which was not felt by anyone in the park.

However, Dr Poland reminded viewers of the 1959 Hebgen lake earthquake that occurred on August 17, stating: “I think this anniversary is a good reminder to us that earthquake hazards in the Yellowstone region are pretty significant.”

The quake caused massive damage, including 28 fatalities and a considerable £9million in repairs to highways and timbers.

Debbie Hamilton was just a youngster when the devastating natural disaster struck, but she recalled in detail the events in a 2014 tribute.

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“Many of the park’s hot springs changed temperature. 

“The springs’ colours changed, too, as minute particles of broken rock muddied the waters. 

“In the northwestern corner of the park large cracks emitted hot steam. 

“USGS-maintained gauges monitoring flow into Hebgen Lake revealed that the amount of water in the Madison River increased from 350 cubic feet per second a day approximately two weeks before the quake to 1,100 during the last 10 days of August.”

A Yellowstone National Park worker at the time, Gay Beck Copenhaver, recounted how the Old Faithful area was in chaos as tourists and staff tried to figure out what to do. 

She stated in 2014: “Only the California tourists, more familiar with earthquakes, seemed somewhat calm.

“All the tourists were determined to get to their cars and flee, a string of cars with headlights dancing into the clear night sky were lined up for exodus from the quake area.

“We spent a restless night at the lodge on the floor of the main room. 

“We were all very frightened with only flashlights and candles for light. 

“Strangers clung to each other as the long night crept slowly by, praying could be heard everywhere.”

After only three weeks the damned river created a lake more than 170 feet deep.

The lake the quake created now covers an area five miles long and a third of a mile wide. 

Today, tourists to the area can stop by the Earthquake Lake Visitor Centre, which is situated 27 miles north of West Yellowstone to re-live the horrors from more than half a century ago.

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