Study: Yellowstone Magma Much Bigger Than Thought

Yellowstone is an active volcano. Surface features such every bit geysers together with hot springs are straight results of the region’s underlying volcanism. Credit: National Park Service

The hot molten stone beneath Yellowstone National Park is ii ½ times larger than previously estimated, important the park’s supervolcano has the potential to erupt amongst a strength well-nigh 2,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens, according to a novel study.

By criterion seismic waves from earthquakes, scientists were able to map the magma bedchamber underneath the Yellowstone caldera every bit 55 miles long, atomic number 82 writer Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah said Monday.

The bedchamber is eighteen miles broad together with runs at depths from 3 to ix miles below the earth, he added.

That agency in that place is plenty volcanic cloth below the surface to gibe the largest of the supervolcano’s 3 eruptions over the final 2.1 1 grand 1000 years, Farrell said.

The largest boom — the volcano’s showtime — was 2,000 times the size of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens inwards Washington state. H5N1 similar 1 would spew large amounts of volcanic cloth inwards the atmosphere, where it would circle the earth, he said.

“It would travel a global event,” Farrell said. “There would travel a lot of devastation together with a lot of impacts unopen to the globe.”

The final Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms nether Yellowstone accept warned the caldera is overdue to erupt.

Farrell dismissed that notion, maxim in that place isn’t plenty information to guess the timing of the adjacent eruption.

“We produce believe in that place volition travel some other eruption, nosotros only don’t know when,” he said.

There are plenty instruments monitoring the seismic action of Yellowstone that scientists would probable know good ahead of fourth dimension if in that place was odd action happening together with magma was moving to the surface, Farrell said.

The USGS’ Yellowstone Volcano Observatory listed the park’s volcano alarm degree every bit “normal” for December.

Yellowstone attracts millions of visitors amongst its geothermal features of geysers, hot springs together with bubbling mud pots. The commons only opened its gates on Lord’s Day for its wintertime season.

Park officials did non forthwith provide a telephone telephone for comment.

H5N1 large earthquake at Yellowstone is much to a greater extent than probable than a volcano eruption, Farrell said.

The 7.5-magnitude Hebgen Lake earthquake killed 28 people in that place inwards 1959.

Farrell presented his findings final calendar week to the American Geophysical Union. He said he is submitting it to a scholarly mag for peer review together with publication.

Brigham Young University geology professor Eric Christiansen said the written report past times Farrell together with University of Utah Professor Bob Smith is rattling of import to agreement the development of large volcanos such every bit Yellowstone’s.

“It helps us empathise the active system,” Christiansen said. “It’s non at the quest where nosotros ask to worry well-nigh an imminent eruption, but every slice of information nosotros accept volition create us for that eventuality.”

The written report was published inwards the mag Science.