Yellowstone volcano: 300 miles of molten rock ‘RISING and EXPANDING’ under supervolcano
THE Yellowstone volcano rests on top of a magma chamber that has risen to just five miles below the surface, according to a 3D model shown in a bombshell documentary.
By CALLUM HOARE. PUBLISHED: 08:50, Fri, Jan 4, 2019 | UPDATED: 09:12, Fri, Jan 4, 2019
The supervolcano, located in Yellowstone National Park, has erupted three times in history – 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Volcanoes typically blow when molten rock, known as magma, rises to the surface following the Earth’s mantle melting due to tectonic plates shifting. Geologists have used data to draw a 3D model of the magma chamber, which sits on top of the magma plume, revealing its sheer size and just how close it is to the Yellowstone Caldera.
The model, which featured in the BBC’s “Supervolcano” documentary shows a U-shaped chamber containing more than 300 cubic miles of molten rock.
The 2015 series revealed: “It is just five miles below the surface.
“More importantly, the area of most dramatic rise is directly above the peak of the chamber.
“This suggests the magma chamber is expanding, pushing up against the Earth’s surface.”
The last eruption of Yellowstone produced around 2,500 times more volcanic material than the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens.
Geologists have warned, once a triggering event takes place, an eruption could happen in as little as two weeks.
Jacob Lowenstern, a researcher with the US Geological Survey in Vancouver, Washington, detailed how the last catastrophic incident may have played out.
He said: “Typically when these eruptions begin, they begin from a certain event, then they get larger as they move along the fracture system.
“The entire sequence that formed the last Yellowstone eruption may have taken as little as two weeks.”
This created an eruptive column so colossal that it covered about 60 percent of the US in a thick layer of ash
Should the same happen again, the ground around Yellowstone National Park would rise upwards forming a swarm of earthquakes.
Then, following the eruption, enormous pyroclastic flows would blast their way across the park.
This mixture of ash, lava blebs, and superheated gas exceed temperatures of 1,000C and can move at speeds of up to 300mph.
They are predicted to spread more than 100 miles out from Yellowstone, burying states like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado in three feet of harmful volcanic ash.
If the pyroclastic flow hits anyone, they would possibly die within seconds as the air could heat up to around 300C.