Sunday, February 12, 2012

Living Yellowstone

To begin to explain the unique characteristics of Yellowstone I chose to create a trailer for this entry. For me, discovering why Yellowstone is what we know today was as exciting as watching a summer “blockbuster” movie. 

Geysers, springs and hotspots are evidence that Yellowstone is an active volcano and will erupt in the future! Yellowstone's largest eruption, Lava Creek eruption, over 640,000 years ago. A 1,000 times the volume of Mount St. Helen's eruption in 1980. The Lava Creek erupted with violent force that blasted volcanic ash across more than 15 states.  After the explosion, the rhyolite dome volcano lacked magma that supported the structure. The volcano collapsed creating Yellowstone’s Caldera. Basalt lava flows uplift the lithosphere Yellowstone's caldera. To see the plateau rhyolite flows click here.

Cliff Geyser with exposed thermophiles at Black Sand Basin.

Underneath the North American Plate lives Yellowstone's hotspot of deeply rooted magma of extraordinary size and volume. The lithosphere moves southwest while the hotspot remains stationary, creating gigantic calderas in its path. This scar of calderas forms the Snake River Plain, a flood basalt. Follow the link to "Explore volcanic fields" and see the process’ in motion!

 Section cut of Yellowstone's hotspot.(Click to here enlarge)

Intrusive volcanic sills near Tower Falls. (Click image to enlarge)
Evidence shows Yellowstone may erupt again. University of Utah monitors the earthquakes and ground movements, they have about twenty seismic monitoring stations within Yellowstone National Park. Click here for up-to-date earthquake reports. The black lines are representing faults, the green is the swarm of earthquakes from 1995-2009 and the red cluster is the newest swarm in 2010. A total of 2,347 earthquakes shook Yellowstone over a span of four months!
University of Utah Seismic Graph of Yellowstone National Park.
This USGS Geologic Map of Yellowstone demonstrates connections between the fault lines, types of rock, and different areas of lava flows. There is a linear characteristic with the earthquakes and the fault lines along, with laccoliths, in both maps. The Sour Creek Dome and the Mallard Lake Dome are another sign of the volcano emerging once again.