Irene Worthington Baron

YELLOWSTONE-NATIONAL-PARK-2-MAGMA-CHAMBER

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK SERIES
#2-MAGMA CHAMBERS

by Irene Baron    www.irenebaron.com 

USGS-Volcanic-Observatory-Image-Yellowstone-PlumesIt is evident that magma under the Yellowstone caldera is welling up from the mantle beneath it. The 1800-mile thick mantle of rock surrounding the Earth’s super hot core makes up over 80% of the earth’s mass. Its temperatures ranges from 400 0 F.  at the upper level to over 7,000 0 F. nearest the core.

Information about the magma beneath Yellowstone is constantly being discovered. Callum Hoare, on 19 July 2019, reported in the online Express News that the magma chamber below the Yellowstone caldera is  “…four times bigger than they originally thought….” Students and staff at the University of Utah discovered and produced images of the large magma chamber under Yellowstone’s volcano which lies only 12-28 miles below the surface. See the image to the left.

When I taught Geology,  my high school students used earthquake data from three sources to map and locate the epicenter of an earthquake. Depth was supplied by the USGS. Earthquake waves bounce off underground solid or liquid masses of earth differently. They move much more slowly through liquid material. Consequently, the construction of the underground material and liquid magma chambers can be mapped. This is how the magma chambers under the Yellowstone volcano caldera was determined.

The discovery of the large magma chamber does not mean it is growing. The discovery is the result of better techniques, imaging equipment and technology.  By having more data, scientists are better able to predict future volcanic hazards. The current hazard level is "normal."

There is an upper magma chamber connecting to a massive plume of magma from the hot spot in the mantle. The chambers are not filled totally with magma, but have magma sections within their hot rock.

As the North American continent moves over a mantle “hot spot” during ongoing continental shifting, resulting volcanic activity has been documented in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming. The deep magma chamber appears to stay in one location while the crust of the Earth moves over it.  

In my previous blog about Yellowstone, I mentioned the CO2  gas which rises from the Earth in volcanic areas. In 2004 bison were killed in Yellowstone due to gases rising from sources below the surface. It is possible the gases which killed the bison were more toxic than CO2 . That such gases were found at Yellowstone is indicative of the ground increasing in temperature, perhaps of magma rising in the lower levels which heats the upper magma.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) continually monitors activity in Yellowstone Park. They have about 40 seismometers used in determining what the structure of the phenomena under the caldera looks like. The slow down of an earthquake wave means liquid magma.

Is Yellowstone Volcano going to erupt? Yes. The “when” is the question. It may be hundreds of years or more. If there is a rhythmic movement of magma picked up on seismographs signaling magma is on the move, volcanogists state the resulting eruption may be weeks in the future. That would give nearby personnel time to evacuate the region.

The USGS stated the evidence is present to show “colossal volcanic events” that created the current landscape. They reported it is difficult to grasp such violence, even by those who have studied past volcanisms.

Callum Hoare articlehttps://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1155390/yellowstone-volcano-magma-chamber-molten-usgs-caldera-spt/amp

Magma chamber size: https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1154070/yellowstone-volcano-usgs-scientists-caldera-twice-size-utah-scientists-spt/amp

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory: https://www.usgs.gov/science-explorer-results?es=Yellowstone  

 

YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY MONTHLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Monday, July 1, 2019, 12:26 PM MDT (Monday, July 1, 2019, 18:26 UTC)


YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (VNUM #325010)
44°25'48" N 110°40'12" W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Recent work and news

In June 2019, Steamboat geyser smashed more records! During the month, 7 water eruptions occurred, on June 1, 7, 12, 15, 19, 23, and 28, bringing the total number of eruptions for the year to 25. At this rate, the annual record for eruptions—32, set last year—will fall this summer! June also saw the shortest interval between eruptions that has ever been recorded—slightly over 3 days. University of Utah and National Park Service scientists deployed a network of 51 temporary seismometers around Steamboat geyser in mid-June and have already captured 4 water eruptions. These data will be a terrific complement to last year's May-June deployment and should teach scientists quite a lot about Steamboat's activity patterns and plumbing system! In addition to work at Steamboat, UNAVCO engineers visited Global Positioning System (GPS) stations around the park to conduct routine maintenance.

Seismicity

During June 2019, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 73 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region. The largest event was a microearthquake of magnitude 2.0 located 5 miles north of West Yellowstone, MT, on June 14 at 2:25 AM MDT. The earthquake was not reported felt.

Two small earthquake swarms were located 5 miles south-southeast of West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park. One occurred on June 13 and included 12 located earthquakes, while the other took place on June 19 and was made up of 10 located earthquakes. The largest earthquake in either sequence had a magnitude of 1.8 and occurred on June 19.

Yellowstone earthquake activity remains at background levels.

Ground deformation

There were no major changes in surface deformation in the Yellowstone area as recorded by GPS stations. Ground subsidence of Yellowstone caldera continues, as it has since 2015, at a rate of 2-3 centimeters per year. Minor fluctuations in subsidence rate are most likely due to seasonal changes in snow melt and lake level. In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, GPS data show little change since October 2018.

An example of GPS data can be found at http://www.unavco.org/instrumentation/networks/status/pbo/data/NRWY (click on Static Plots / Cleaned)



The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey



CONTACT INFORMATION:

Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge
mpoland@usgs.gov


 

YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY MONTHLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 12:19 PM MDT (Saturday, June 1, 2019, 18:19 UTC)


YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO (VNUM #325010)
44°25'48" N 110°40'12" W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Recent work and news

In May 2019, Steamboat geyser returned to its pattern of more frequent activity, with water eruptions occurring almost weekly, on May 3, 8, 13, 20, and 27. Field work by YVO scientists during the month involved the deployment of semipermanent GPS stations to 15 locations around Yellowstone National Park, as well as maintenance of the Norris temperature network—including the datalogger at Steamboat geyser, which had not been operating due to an equipment failure.

Seismicity

During May 2019, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 77 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region. The largest event was a microearthquake of magnitude 2.8 located 17 miles west-northwest of West Yellowstone, MT, on May 6 at 7:04 PM MDT. The earthquake was not reported felt.

Yellowstone earthquake activity remains at background levels.

Ground deformation

There were no major changes in surface deformation in the Yellowstone area as recorded by GPS stations. Ground subsidence of Yellowstone caldera continues, as it has since 2015, at a rate of 2-3 centimeters per year. In the area of Norris Geyser Basin, GPS data show little net deformation since October 2018.

An example of GPS data can be found at http://www.unavco.org/instrumentation/networks/status/pbo/data/NRWY (click on Static Plots / Cleaned)



The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey



CONTACT INFORMATION:

Michael Poland, Scientist-in-Charge
mpoland@usgs.gov  https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/yellowstone/status.html

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/yellowstone/monitoring_map.html


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