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Magma On The Move Beneath Yellowstone
Scientific American ^ | March 2, 2006 | David Biello

Posted on 03/02/2006 6:29:40 AM PST by Founding Father

Much of Yellowstone National Park is a giant collapsed volcano, or caldera. In an enormous eruption roughly 640,000 years ago, this volcano spit out around 240 cubic miles of rock, dirt, magma and other material. Around 70,000 years ago, its last eruption filled in that gaping hole with flows of lava. Since then the area has enjoyed an uneasy peace, the land alternately rising and falling with the passing decades. New satellite data indicate that this uplift and subsidence is caused by the movement of magma beneath the surface and may explain why the northern edge of the park continues to rise while the southern part of the caldera is falling.

Charles Wicks, Daniel Dzurisin and their colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey studied radar images of the caldera captured by the European Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite during two passes over the park. Using a technique called interferometry--whereby radar measurements from two different vantage points are combined to give a measure of height--the scientists confirmed measurements on the ground that showed the land rising. But the images also revealed that a roughly 12-mile-wide circle of land centered at the northern rim of the caldera is still rising while land to its south is sinking. The source of that uplift, according to data revealed in today's Nature, lies more than seven miles underground.

Therefore, magma movement must be the cause of the rise and fall, Dzurisin explains. "It's just too deep to be caused by pressurization of the hydrothermal system," he says. "A small amount of magma has either moved up or been intruded to a depth of [seven miles] or perhaps it was already there and it's been pressurized."

Although previous studies had hinted at new magma moving beneath Yellowstone, this represents the first compelling evidence, according to Dzurisin. Such magma movement would also explain recent surface phenomena like new cracksand hot springs, and the more frequent eruption of Steamboat Geyser. "If you do pressurize or increase the volume of a source [seven miles] deep, you put the ground in tension and that would be conducive to new fractures giving access to the surface for hot waters that previously hadn't had that access," he adds.

This new magma does not mean that Yellowstone will erupt again in the near future; much more significant signs such as more earthquakes, more focused ground deformations and the escape of volcanic gases would point to that. But it does point to continued activity at one of the world's largest volcanic systems. "We don't know if the next event will be a continuation of the series of lava flows that filled in the caldera or the beginning of a new cycle that will create a new caldera," Dzurisin says. "Eruptions are far enough apart that there is a very low probability of the next eruption happening in our lifetimes or anytime soon. The flipside is: the system has been active for millions of years and it's going to erupt again sometime." --David Biello


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Idaho; US: Montana; US: Wyoming
KEYWORDS: ecoping; energy; eruption; geothermal; geothermalenergy; global; globalwarming; magma; volcano; yellowstone
Very interesting.
1 posted on 03/02/2006 6:29:40 AM PST by Founding Father
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To: Founding Father
Did you say .. Magma?


2 posted on 03/02/2006 6:31:37 AM PST by new yorker 77 (FAKE POLLS DO NOT TRANSLATE INTO REAL VOTERS!)
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To: Founding Father
Super Volcano
3 posted on 03/02/2006 6:43:47 AM PST by cowboyway (My heroes have always been cowboys.)
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To: Founding Father; GreenFreeper; fanfan

...this volcano spit out around 240 cubic miles of rock, dirt, magma and other material.

Wow.


4 posted on 03/02/2006 6:53:59 AM PST by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Founding Father
Seems like Yellowstone is a prime source of geothermal energy.

Cheap clean energy with the side effect of bleeding off some of the heat below. Win-Win.

Problem is the econazis would have a total meltdown and wouldn't let it happen.
5 posted on 03/02/2006 6:54:55 AM PST by rottndog (WOOF!!!!)
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To: new yorker 77

You beat me to it!


6 posted on 03/02/2006 6:54:58 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: george76

Thanks for the ping.


7 posted on 03/02/2006 7:27:03 AM PST by fanfan (I'd still rather hunt with Cheney, than drive with Kennedy.)
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

Interesting stuff. When it blows it will be part of the Bush conspiracy and global warming!!

8 posted on 03/02/2006 8:30:28 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper

If Steamboat starts erupting regularly, I may have to figure out how to get there to see it.


9 posted on 03/02/2006 8:52:28 AM PST by cogitator
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To: agitator; diotima

hmmm


10 posted on 03/02/2006 10:02:03 AM PST by Bob J (RIGHTALK.com...a conservative alternative to NPR!)
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To: Founding Father
This new magma does not mean that Yellowstone will erupt again in the near future; much more significant signs such as more earthquakes, more focused ground deformations and the escape of volcanic gases would point to that.

HA!...in the movie it's right about the time the 'expert' makes this statement against the hero/'heroette' factual discoveries that they can get no 'politician' to listen to...that the lid blows and a tidal wave of lava consumes the nay sayers....

Luckily their pets escape unharmed and the hero gets the 'heroette'...whose lawyer consumes all his 'eartly' possession in divorce court... 10 yrs later...

11 posted on 03/02/2006 10:22:53 AM PST by joesnuffy (A camel once bit our sister..but we knew just what to do...we gathered rocks and squashed her!)
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To: GreenFreeper

Bush probably had Carl and Dick set this scenario up some ten thousand years ago. Now it is time to push the button.


12 posted on 03/02/2006 10:39:12 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: rottndog

Yes, I've read on a similiar thread that the energy produced from Yellowstone can supply the Western U.S. for decades.


13 posted on 03/02/2006 10:40:27 AM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (We're Americans, we can do anything)
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To: Founding Father
George Bush's fault and a direct result of global warming. Women and minorities will be most affected by any eruption.
14 posted on 03/02/2006 11:40:41 AM PST by The Great RJ ("Mir wölle bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: Founding Father

The magma is, has been, and will be on the move.

Just look at the Hawaiian island chain. Newest at the end of the chain. Watzup? Must be on the move.


15 posted on 03/02/2006 1:31:56 PM PST by UCANSEE2 (and miles to go before I sleep.)
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To: The Great RJ; Founding Father
"George Bush's fault and a direct result of global warming."

No argument from me about that. Volcanoes don't always have fault lines, but it would be cool to name one after George Bush. It might confuse the liberals even further.

16 posted on 03/02/2006 3:23:55 PM PST by NicknamedBob (INTJ, of course -- Why'd you have to ask?)
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To: rottndog

ROTFL. I live 100 miles east of the park, and go over all of the time. I also write on Yellowsotne chat lines and they most assuredly would have a melt down at the suggestion. It would be a double meltdown if it slowed down the wolves, grizzlies, or buffalo!


17 posted on 03/02/2006 5:15:38 PM PST by midwyf (Eliminate government involvement in the environmental religion too.)
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To: new yorker 77

"I want sharks with freaking laser beams on their heads!"


18 posted on 03/02/2006 9:58:12 PM PST by Mad_Tom_Rackham (A Liberal: One who demands half of your pie, because he didn't bake one.)
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To: cowboyway

bfl


19 posted on 03/03/2006 2:13:05 AM PST by Marie (Support the Troops. Slap a hippy.)
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To: GreenFreeper

heh heh heh


20 posted on 03/03/2006 5:50:57 AM PST by satchmodog9 (Most people stand on the tracks and never even hear the train coming)
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To: Founding Father

We are Doomed. DOOMED!!!!!!!!!!!!!


21 posted on 03/03/2006 5:53:58 AM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: rottndog
Cheap clean energy with the side effect of bleeding off some of the heat below. Win-Win.

We could build geothermal energy plants for the next 200 years nonstop and not affect the geology of the magma chamber in any measurable way.

22 posted on 03/03/2006 6:09:06 AM PST by ko_kyi
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To: Founding Father

If it were to blow Louis Farakhan will say that Cheney and Bush were behind it and Chris Matthews will go wall-to-wall with video about Bush being warned and how its all this Administrations fault.


23 posted on 03/03/2006 6:14:37 AM PST by DoctorMichael (The Fourth-Estate is a Fifth-Column!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: ko_kyi
We could build geothermal energy plants for the next 200 years nonstop and not affect the geology of the magma chamber in any measurable way.


Yeah, I know--but that's an even better reason to do this. Yellowstone alone could make hydrogen powered cars economically viable by driving down the cost of producing the hydrogen.

Too bad so many people have no concept of how much energy is there. In my Navy days in Hawaii, the locals fought tooth and nail to stop a geothermal plant on the big island. They were afraid it would alter the behavior of the volcano. And then there's that pissing off the gods thing. But oh how they bitch and whine about the high cost of energy....
24 posted on 03/03/2006 7:32:04 AM PST by rottndog (WOOF!!!!)
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To: Marie
bfl

WTF?

25 posted on 03/03/2006 7:39:48 AM PST by cowboyway (My heroes have always been cowboys.)
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To: commish

26 posted on 03/03/2006 7:42:24 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (The best stuff happens just before the thread snaps.)
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To: cowboyway

"bump for later" :-)


27 posted on 03/03/2006 10:41:29 AM PST by Marie (Support the Troops. Slap a hippy.)
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To: Founding Father

28 posted on 03/03/2006 10:49:14 AM PST by ATCNavyRetiree (I can most times spot a liberal...they look weak, cowardly and undisciplined.)
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To: Founding Father

Should the Army Corps of Engineers begin building the levees now?


29 posted on 03/03/2006 11:00:07 AM PST by chs68
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