Researchers find Two Huge Magma Chambers beneath Yellowstone National Park

Researchers find Two Huge Magma Chambers beneath Yellowstone National Park

Scientists have explored a gigantic reservoir of hot, partly-molten rock beneath the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park. A volcanic hot spot that has caused some of the largest eruptions on earth sits underneath the bubbling geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

The subterranean plumbing system has now been completely imaged by geoscientists. They have found not just one, but two magma chambers underneath the giant volcano.

Study author Hsin-Hua Huang, a seismologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said what has really excited them is the discovery of a deeper and bigger magma reservoir in the lower crust.

A plume, which is known to bring molten rock up from deep in the mantle to a region about 60 kilometers below the surface, was already in the knowledge of scientists. They had also successfully performed the task of imaging a shallow magma chamber about 10 kilometers below the surface. It was believed containing about 10,000 cubic kilometers of molten material.

But they have now come across a deeper one, 4.5 times larger, that is present between 20 and 50 kilometers below the surface.

“They found the missing link between the mantle plume and the shallow magma chamber”, saoid Peter Cervelli, a geophysicist in Anchorage, Alaska, who works at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Alan Levander, a geophysicist at Rice University in Houston, Texas, said the study has helped them get a comprehensive view of the magma system from the top of the plume into the crust.

The amount of molten rock material in newly-discovered magma chamber is good enough to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over. Details of the new chamber were published in yesterday's edition of Science.

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