How the Yellowstone Supervolcano Is A Terrible Disaster Just Waiting to Happen

By April 22, 2018 Environment

Yellowstone has been a beloved location by many for quite some time now. It has been a national park since the 1870s, but it holds a very deep dark secret that most people aren’t aware of.

In recent times the threat of eruption has been more apparent than ever. Yes, it does seem we would be aware of an eruption before it happened but how soon would we know? Underneath that massive national park, the location itself is an enormous supervolcano. A more recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters goes over how the two stacked magma chambers came about through time.

Their summary is as follows:

“We present a series of supercomputer models which we use to investigate the origins of the two‐level magmatic system revealed by recent geophysical observations of the Yellowstone supervolcano. We show that the distribution of melt which matches these observations arises when we assume that rising magmas preferentially accumulate at depths where there are strong contrasts in the ratio of melt overpressure to the effective viscosity of the surrounding crust. Melt accumulates at the major rock strength discontinuities which occur at the base of the crust and at the brittle‐ductile transition which forms above the developing magmatic system at approximately 10 km depth. This second boundary captures the considerable majority of the melt and produces a basaltic sill complex which resides between depths of 10 and 25 km, and which provides heat which melts the surrounding crust. This sill complex cools and solidifies and separates the partially molten crust above and below it into the two magmatic systems seen in the geophysical images. Finally, we are able to constrain the temperature of the Yellowstone mantle plume to be 175{degree sign}C hotter than the surrounding mantle and the thickness of the overlying lithosphere to be approximately 80 km.”

Yellowstone is the only caldera in the US and it is worth paying a lot of attention to. It has erupted before and will erupt again. We all need to be aware of this threat and be as prepared as we can possibly be. We should all be worried.

 

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