How Yellowstone Formed: New Study Challenges Previous Models of the Supervolcano

First Posted: Feb 11, 2016 11:02 AM EST

How did Yellowstone form? Scientists have taken a closer look at Yellowstone National Park and have developed a new theory as to how this region formed.

"Our model covered the entire history of Yellowstone volcanic activities," said Lijun Liu, one of the researchers, in a news release.

Yellowstone is one of the largest remaining active supervolcanoes. A supervolcano is capable of erupting on a much larger scale than an ordinary volcano. While the origins of Yellowstone are still under debate, one of the most prevalent views is that Yellowstone's supervolcano was formed by a vertical column of hot rocks rising from the top of the earth's core, known as a mantle plume.

In this latest study, the researchers used a supercomputer to create a computer model that replicated both the plate tectonic history of the surface and the geophysical image of the Earth's interior. This study is the first to use a high-performance supercomputer to interpret the layers of complicated geophysical data underlying Yellowstone.

The researchers also examined many other factors that could have played a role in forming Yellowstone. The simulations actually discounted most of the other theories of Yellowstone's origin.

"This research indicates that we need a multidisciplinary approach to understand complicated natural processes like Yellowstone," said Liu. "I know people like simple models, but Earth is not simple."

The findings are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Related Articles

What Triggers a Supervolcano: Outside Environmental Factors May Cause Massive Eruption

Climate Change May be Causing Major Impacts for the Next 10,000 Years

For more great science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics