Location & Extent
- Western United States of America
- Northwest corner of Wyoming State
- Part of Yellowstone National Park
- The extent is about 72 Km.
Developed through three volcanic cycles spanning over two million years.
- Huckleberry Ridge Eruption (2.1 Million Years)
- Mesa Falls Eruption (1.3 Million Years)
- Lava Creek Eruption ( 6.3 Lakh Years)
- Huckleberry Ridge and Lava Creek Eruptions were World’s largest known eruptions.
They are result of Hotspot Volcanism
The Caldera is situated over Hotspot lying below the Yellowstone Plateau. Large volumes of Rhyolite lava has come out from the mantle and covered the surface. The hotspot remain stationary, North American Plate has been moving over it.
Why called as Super volcano?
Super volcanoes are very large volcano with Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) more than 8 (eight). Super volcano explodes when the magma from the mantle is not able to come out easily. It built pressure on the crust and subsequently comes out with huge explosion. Yellowstone is one among the extremely large volcanic fields that has generated huge volcanic eruptions in the past. Yellowstone is part of the field that has produced three Super-eruptions due to the hotspot activity.
Current Status of the Yellowstone Caldera
According to USGS, Yellowstone is currently the site of one of the largest hydrothermal systems.
Yellowstone is having Earth’s largest concentration of Geysers (For example Old Faithful)
There is a lake situated at the center of the caldera, known as Yellowstone Lake.
Is Yellowstone Super-volcano going to explode?
Due to the increase in hydrothermal activities in some section of the region (such as Norris Geyser Basin), some people have started spreading news that Yellowstone is going to explode. As per USGS, most of the thermal features (except old faithful) are consistent and stable. Heat data collected through sensors placed at different locations of Yellowstone also indicates that variations are smaller, major thermal changes are not detectable.
What is the future?
According to a report published in bbc.com, NASA is preparing a plan to reduce the threat from Super volcanoes.
The plan is to make a drill of about 10 Km to pump cold water down with high pressure. By this process the cold water will come out super heated, this may reduce the heat inside the caldera. The process can also be used to create Geothermal Energy Plant to produce electricity at competitive prices.
The Caldera is already attracting lot of tourists every year.
Several experts have said that Super volcanoes spread across the world presents greater challenge than the possibility of asteroids hitting the Earth. However, humans are putting their best effort to mitigate and manage such crisis with the help of technology.
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