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Yellowstone supervolcano – new discovery leaves scientists confused

 

In addition to being one of the most beautiful natural phenomena on our planet, the Yellowstone supervolcano is potentially the most unstable.

According to the latest study, the Yellowstone supervolcano located in the US state of Wyoming has much more magma than previously thought, but scientists claim that this does not mean that we should panic because it does not mean that an eruption is likely in the near future.

A research team led by geologist Ross Maguire of the University of Illinois sought to determine how much magma is beneath the surface of this supervolcano and how it is moving – so they can more accurately predict future events.

“Although our results indicate that the magma reservoir beneath Yellowstone contains hot fluid at the depths that fueled previous eruptions, our study did not confirm the presence of an eruptive body indicative of future eruptions,” the researchers reported in the paper.

While discovering what’s happening deep below the Earth’s surface is no easy task, researchers used a newly developed tomographic imaging technique to analyze seismic waves recorded between 2000 and 2018, applying full waveform inversion to better interpret the bouncing vibrations. and they return it.

Based on how the wave speed changes at different depths, the researchers concluded that the liquid magma reservoir beneath Yellowstone has a partial ignition fraction between 16 and 20%, in contrast to previous models that estimated 10% or less. In addition, it was found that the waves propagate most slowly at about 3 to 8 km below the surface, suggesting that the molten liquid is most concentrated in the so-called shallow depths.

The new detailed melt-rich zone is an “important indicator” of which eruptive cycle the volcano is in, the researchers say, but they add that it’s only one part of the picture. Prediction models are constantly being refined as new eruptions and discoveries are made. Three catastrophic eruptions at Yellowstone have occurred in the last 2.1 million years, although there are no clear indications of when the next one might occur.

The research is published in the journal Science.

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