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article imageUSGS needs funding to upgrade monitoring equipment at Yellowstone National Park

By Telafree     Nov 23, 2006 in Environment
The USGS would like to start upgrading their almost outdated monitoring systems of one of the largest active volcanic systems in the world, Yellowstone National Park.
Mt St Helens is currently erupting, but if you don't live in the pacific northwest you might not know that it is continuing to strew lava through its open vents 24 hours a day. There is also some of the most updated digital equipment monitoring the volcano gathering some of the kind of data that geologists dream about. They would like to have that chance with at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, especially since the statistics say that Yellowstone might just do more then spew Old Faithful day after day. There is a large area of the park that is a sign of a previous eruption, what geologists call a caldera. The USGS has a proposal to upgrade their equipment but they do not have the funding for it This proposal, to Jake Lowenstern, a Geologist with the USGS who is also head of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is meant as a starting point for launching discussions about how best to monitor seismic activity in the park “It’s our way of thinking through what sort of techniques would be useful, what we do and why, and then where do we fall short and how we might improve,”
The proposal suggests upgrading Yellowstone’s seismic network with more gauges to monitor streams and potentially dangerous gases, GPS stations that help predict ground-splitting explosions and even instruments hundreds of feet below the ground to monitor groundwater, magma and shifting rocks.
The upgraded system would detect changes that are so small that the equipment they have now would not pick it up. There are already 26 seismic stations in Yellowstone, but most of the equipment being used is still analog, not digital. Something that is likely to affect the Observatory as digital replaces analog in the years ahead. Volcanic activity will never stop, the more data, the safer we can be.
More about USGS, Yellowstone, Earthquakes
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