Researchers have found evidence of a hot magma mantle plume underneath Yellowstone National Park’s supervolcano hotspot. Some scientists argue the plume is providing the heat for Yellowstone and its hot springs. The plume reaches from the Earth’s core-mantle boundary to the base of Yellowstone’s crust.
Underneath Yellowstone National Park lies a massive supervolcano and researchers believe they have gotten their clearest picture yet of its hotspot.
Yellowstone’s hotspot is situated within our planet’s mantle, and scientists believe it is part of a surge of atypically hot rock known as a mantle plume. They are thought to begin some 1,850 miles below Earth’s surface at the boundary separating the mantle from the core. And the vast mantle plume is stretching from the Yellowstone Supervolcano to Mexico!
The scientists used an imaging technique known as seismic tomography and discovered a plume reaching from the Earth’s core-mantle boundary to the base of Yellowstone’s crust.
Yellowstone’s underground volcano is 44 miles across and last erupted more than 630,000 years ago. Scientists say if it were to explode again, it could be a major disaster due to its ability to eject large amounts of ash.
Supervolcanic eruption effects and prevention
A supervolcano explosion is capable of “plunging the world into a catastrophe” and pushing humanity “to the brink of extinction,” NASA researchers wrote in a 2015 study. The information we have on the rare eruptions today are estimates based on the geologic record and the massive deposits left behind by them.
The ash spewed by such an explosion could create a global “volcanic winter” by blanketing parts of continents with soot.
To help prevent such a catastrophic event, the researchers suggested drilling into the volcano to extract heat and pump water through it. The water would circulate and reach more than 600 degrees Fahrenheit before coming back out, which could slowly remove heat from the volcano and prevent it from erupting. The hydrothermal circulation at Yellowstone may cool the underlying magma and may lead to decreased long-term volcanic hazards.
The scientists say more research would need to be done to figure out how to protect citizens against a potential supervolcano eruption. Thankfully, there has been no evidence suggesting that an eruption from the underground volcano is imminent.