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The Geology of Yellowstone

ourAmazing planet The Geology of Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park covers 3,472 square miles (8,987 sq. km) of mountains, lakes and canyons. The area contains an estimated 10,000 geothermal features (hot springs and geysers), half of the total in the entire world. The Yellowstone Caldera is an active supervol- cano that erupted in the past and will do so again, possibly covering up to half the United States in volcanic ash. PHOTO: OBSERVERS WATCH "OLD FAITHFUL" ERUPT (DREAMSTIME) Mont. Idaho Wyo. MONTANA WYOMING Mirror Plateau YELLOWSTONE CALDERA MONTANA Central Plateau IDAHO "Old Faithful" Yellowstone Lake Yellowstone Ndtional Park 20 miles 20 km Hot Water, Mud and Color The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. The vivid colors around the rim are due to bacterial mats that thrive in the mineral-rich water. Photos: National Park Service, Al Mebane Molten Rock and Superheated Water This cross-section shows that the area sits on a "hot spot" where molten rock from deep within the Earth wells up near to the surface. The pressure causes the rock to stretch, which results in earthquakes. Water in the form of rain, snow and ice melting off of nearby mountains trickles though the porous rock. Eventu- ally the cool water reaches a layer of hot brine heated by the magma. The water becomes superheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) but remains liquid due to the pressure. YELLOWSTONE CALDERA RIM BOUNDARY SCHEMATIC FAULT DIAGRAM GEYSERS SHALLOW HOT WATER RESERVOIR EARTHQUAKES CRUSTAL STRETCHING GRANITIC MAGMA CRUSTAL STRETCHING BASALT MAGMA RISING BASALTIC MAGMA Plates in Motion NORTH AMERICAN JUAN DE FUCA PLATE The crust of the Earth is broken up into large tectonic plates, PLATE which move slowly against, over and under one another. The North American plate moves steadily to the southwest, carrying the landscape over the magma hot spot. On a map this looks as PACIFIC though the hot spot were migrating eastward. PLATE Seattle Spokane WASHINGTON Olympia Misso Missoula OHelena Portland Cotmbia Butte MONTANA Billings 630,000 years ago IDAHO OREGON CALDERA TODAY 10 - 7 mya Boise 1.3 mya WYOMING 6.5 - 4.3 mya 16.5 - 15 million years ago Pocatello Casper 10.5 - 8.6 mya CALIF. 12 - 10.5 mya Great Sala Lake Cheyenne 15 - 13 mya *Salt Lake City •Provo COLORADO Reno NEVADA *Carson City Denver 200 miles ÚTAH Sacramento 200 km The Yellowstone Supervolcano: Ticking Time Bomb Deviation from ellipsoid (meters) -10 -20 -30 -50 MAP SHOWS DEVIATION FROM THE "GEOID," OR THE MATHEMATICALLY IDEALIZED SURFACE OF THE EARTH. THE YELLOW- STONE AREA IS A SWELLING 300 MI (500 KM) ACROSS. SOURCE: JOURNAL OF VOLCANOLOGY AND GEOTHERMAL RESEARCH Geologists predict that Mount St. Helens, 1980 eventually Yellowstone will erupt into a super- YELLOWSTONE CALDERA volcano that could blanket half the United States in volcanic ash 3 feet (1 meter) deep. Geological evidence APPROXIMATE EXTENT shows that similar eruptions have hap- pened several times in the past. Mesa Falls eruption, 1.3 million years ago Huckleberry Ridge eruption, 2.1 million years ago Lava Creek eruption, 640,000 years ago SOURCE: UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY; NATIONAL PARK SERVICE; JOURNAL OF VOLCANOLOGY AND GEOTHERMAL RESEARCH; EARTH AND KARL TATE, PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS OF ASH DEPOS

The Geology of Yellowstone

shared by judithgold on Nov 14
This infographic provides detailed information and visuals for the geology of Yellowstone. It shows the layers of rock that Yellowstone is made up and the environment consequences of their volcanic system.


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