The massive volcano below the Yellowstone National Park is one of those lurking hazards that would not probably erupt soon and leave a huge crater in the middle of the American Midwest, but if it does, still the proper methods to handle it are not known.
The basics of what is currently known are that the Yellowstone is shelter to a huge magma chamber under the ground and that it is typically erupted at time spans of about 600,000 years for the last 2 million years or so – the last time the Yellowstone fired off was around 630,000 years ago. So now is a great time to learn more regarding the volcano and progress is being made on that front.
The new study from the University of Oregon, just published in the Geophysical Research Letters, depicts a much more comprehensive look at the magma chamber. This model, while largely mathematical, unveils that this huge chamber consists of a “transition zone” in the form of a mid-crustal that still plays a big role in how the deep magma rises to the surface.
The model confirms the recent discoveries that the volcano is larger than it was thought, with the initial magma chamber situated 2.5 and 8.7 miles underneath the surface and a second magma chamber at around 12 to 27 miles deep. The thing that separates these two areas is the mid-crustal, around 6.2 to 9.3 miles thick.
This unmelted shelf is crucial, as this is where the cold rocks meet with the hot magma that pools up and gathers over the crustal shelf. From here, it has a much simpler journey to the surface in the course of an eruption, and on top of it, this magma plume is around 315 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) hotter than the mantle that is surrounding it.