“We record earthquakes in and around Yellowstone, and we measure the seismic waves as they travel through the ground,” said Dr. Jamie Farrell, of the University of Utah. “The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material (and) with this, we can measure what’s beneath.”
The last major eruption 640,000 years ago covered North America with ash and affected the climate of the entire planet. An eruption today would be catastrophic for the entire planet
The magma chamber extended much further east than previously believed, holding a mixture of solid and molten rock.
“To our knowledge there has been nothing mapped of that size before,” Farrell said.
But the larger size does not necessarily make the Yellowstone hazard greater, Smith said.
Researchers can’t say for sure when the volcano might erupt again, but they monitor the area for advance warning of seismic activity.
Some believe that a massive eruption is overdue because the Yellowstone volcano erupts every 700,000 years or so.
Previous known eruptions occurred about 2 million years ago and 1.3 million years ago.
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