We already knew it was a supervolcano. But now a volcano in Yellowstone National Park is attracting scientists with more magma than previously thought.
A 3D modeling technique called seismic tomography revealed the enormous volume of magma and allowed scientists to better understand how Yellowstone’s magma is distributed underground within the reservoir. Lava is flowing closer to the surface than scientists previously thought. They asserted that the reservoir is more like an ice cone with solid and liquid components than a giant magma tank.
Magma is molten and semi-molten rock that flows beneath the Earth’s surface. It is very hot. When it erupts from a volcano and flows to the surface of the earth, we call it lava. To be considered a supervolcano, a volcano had to eject more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of deposits at some point in its history. Volcano enthusiasts want to see the Yellowstone supervolcano because a large eruption can have global effects and change the global climate.
“We found that Yellowstone’s crustal magma reservoir is melting more than previously thought,” said Ross Maguire, lead author of the study, as quoted by ABC News. Previous studies have estimated the partial fusion fraction to be between 5% and 15%. The new study found it to be more than 20% at shallower depths.
Although the new research is useful for monitoring the volcano, the threat level has not increased. The supervolcano does not show “increased volcanic unrest,” Maguire said.