The mantle rock that sits beneath Yellowstone's supervolcano extends all the way to California and Oregon, according to new research.
The supervolcano is fed by "finger-like conduits" of molten rock that provides magma to the volcanic fields of Newberry, in eastern Oregon, and Medicine Lake, in northeastern California, but came from as far away as present-day San Diego, according to findings published in the journal Geology.
Victor Camp, a geologist from San Diego State University, used seismic tomography images, chemistry and data about volcanic rock at the surface to trace the molten rock all the way back, through millions of years, to California and Oregon.
Camp suggested the mantle rock had traveled over 2 million years along routes responsible for eruptions at the Craters of the Moon lava flow field in Idaho, through conduits ending at Medicine Lake and the Newberry volcano.
This plume is not controlled by plate tectonics, so it can rise and emerge anywhere on earth, Camp said, and he hoped his findings would help scientists understand where volcanos would erupt in the future.
Volcanologist Rebecca Williams, from the U.K.'s University of Hull, said Camp's findings were not new.
She said researchers had previously linked volcanos in Central Oregon to the Yellowstone-Snake River Plane, and she said Camp presented no new data to support his theory that recent eruptions at Newberry and Medicine Lake were the result of mantle flowing through those channels.
Correction: Craters of the Moon is in Idaho, not Oregon as originally reported.