Heat from below Pacific Ocean fuels Yellowstone

  •  In the new study, reported in the journal Nature Geosciences, Liu and graduate students Quan Zhou and Jiashun Hu used a technique called seismic tomography
  • Using supercomputers, the team ran different tectonic scenarios to observe a range of possible geologic histories for the western U.S. over the past 20 million years.
  • “Our goal is to develop a model that matches up with what we see both below ground and on the surface today,” Zhou said.
  • “It appears that the mantle plume under the western U.S. is sinking deeper into Earth through time, which seems counterintuitive,” Liu said.
  • As for likelihood of a violent demise of Yellowstone occurring anytime soon, the researchers say it is still too early to know.

“Of course, our model can’t predict specific future super-eruptions. However, looking back through 20 million years of history, we do not see anything that makes the present-day Yellowstone region particularly special — at least not enough to make us suspect that it may do something different from the past when many catastrophic eruptions have occurred,” Liu said.

 

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