Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought

By | April 25, 2013

Yellowstone magma pocket Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.

“We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone,” said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. “The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged.”

Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told OurAmazingPlanet. …

Geologists believe Yellowstone sits over a hotspot, a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth’s mantle. As North America slowly drifted over the hotspot, the Yellowstone plume punched through the continent’s crust, leaving a bread-crumb-like trail of calderas created by massive volcanic eruptions along Idaho’s Snake River Plain, leading straight to Yellowstone. The last caldera eruption was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions occurred in between and after the big blasts, most recently about 70,000 years ago.€  …

The magma chamber seen in the new study fed these smaller eruptions and is the source of the park’s amazing hydrothermal springs and geysers. It also creates the surface uplift seen in the park, said Bob Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah and author of a related study presented at the meeting.

“This crustal magma body is a little dimple that creates the uplift,” Smith said. “It’s like putting your finger under a rubber membrane and pushing it up and the sides expand.” …

via Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought | Supervolcanoes | LiveScience.

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