New detailed seismic images of the “plumbing” that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano shows a plume of hot and molten rock rising at an angle from the northwest at a depth of at least 410 miles. Does this mean it’s about to blow?

A study used gravity measurements to indicate the banana-shaped magma chamber of hot and molten rock a few miles beneath Yellowstone is 20% larger than previously believed, so a future cataclysmic eruption could be even larger than thought.

Researcher Robert B. Smith says, “We have a clear image, using seismic waves from earthquakes, showing a mantle plume that extends from beneath Yellowstone.” The plume angles downward 150 miles to the west-northwest of Yellowstone and reaches a depth of at least 410 miles. The study estimates the plume is mostly hot rock, with 1 to 2 % molten rock in sponge-like voids within the hot rock.

Some researchers have doubted the existence of a mantle plume feeding Yellowstone, but this study shows it’s there and that when Yellowstone does erupt, it will be a bigger catastrophe than anyone predicted. Let’s hope we survive!

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