Vast Chamber Of Molten Rock Discovered Under Yellowstone ‘Supervolcano’

magma yellowstone

The giant “supervolcano” that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park is hiding a deep secret: a massive chamber containing enough hot, partly molten rock to fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over.

The newfound chamber (see below) sits 12 to 28 miles beneath the supervolcano and is four times bigger than a shallower chamber above it that scientists already knew about.

“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” Dr. Hsin-Hua Huang, a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics at the University of Utah and a member of the team of seismologists who discovered the vast chamber, said in a written statement. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”

This cross-section illustration cutting southwest-northeast under Yellowstone depicts the newfound, blob-shaped magma chamber under the Yellowstone supervolcano.

Rare eruptions. Is all of this magma something to worry about? The researchers said in the statement that the discovery doesn’t mean pockets of magma are growing larger — or that the supervolcano is about to erupt. The chance of a supervolcano eruption happening in any given year is 1 in 700,000, and the last major eruption was 640,000 years ago.

But the discovery gives scientists a better understanding of Yellowstone’s complex subsurface “plumbing” system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward. The upper magma chamber powers Yellowstone National Park’s geysers and was responsible for three ancient volcanic eruptions that coated much of North America in ash, the Associated Press reported.

“Every additional thing we learn about the Yellowstone volcanic system is one more piece in the puzzle, —> Read More