A new look underneath the supervolcano that spans much of Yellowstone National Park has revealed massive reservoir of magma and hot rocks.
Researchers discovered the reservoir while imaging the insides of the supervolcano using a technique called seismic tomography. The images don’t reveal an increased risk of eruption, but they do offer scientists a better understanding of the inner workings of a supervolcano.
“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” lead study author Hsin-Hua Huang, a researcher in geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, said in a press release. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”
Scientists were able to create 3-D images of the volcano’s deep-earth plumbing by watching how seismic waves behave as they pass through the layers of molten rock.