Study Finds New Magma Reservoir Under Yellowstone

Apr 27, 2015

Credit Yellowstone National Park/Creative Commons

Researchers with the University of Utah have discovered a large magma reservoir underneath the Yellowstone National Park caldera. In a report released Thursday, they say the new area lies 12 miles underground, below a shallower well-known magma chamber.

Researcher Robert Smith is a co-author of the study and says his team used a geologic CT scan to discover the reservoir that’s filled with a mass of hot porous rock, rather than the typical magma. He says the new finding solves a puzzle of the Yellowstone volcano system.

So what we have for the first time is a complete picture of the magma coming from deep in the earth's mantle a thousand kilometers deep, all the way to the earth's surface.

"So what we have for the first time is a complete picture of the magma coming from deep in the earth’s mantle a thousand kilometers deep, all the way to the earth’s surface. And that magma system feeds of course the hydrothermal system of Yellowstone, the geysers and hot springs."

Smith says the giant reservoir doesn’t mean there’s a greater threat of an eruption, which last happened 630,000 years ago.