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Yellowstone

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Yellowstone
green NORMAL, 2024-02-01 19:15:47 UTC

The Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field developed through three volcanic cycles that span two-million years. Two of the eruptions are considered some of the world's largest volcanic events. Yellowstone's youngest eruptions have been lava flows that remain confined to the caldera of present-day Yellowstone National Park. The 77,000 year-old Pitchstone Plateau flow is the volcano's most recent lava.

Quick Facts

Location: Wyoming and Montana

Latitude: 44.615° N

Longitude: 110.6° W

Elevation: 2,805 m / 9,203 f

Volcano type: Caldera

Composition: basalt to rhyolite

Most recent eruption: 70,000 years ago (lava), current hydrothermal explosions

Threat Potential: High*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System

Summary

The >2450 km3 (588 mi3) Huckleberry Ridge Tuff erupted about 2.1 million years ago, creating an approximately 75 km (47 mi) wide caldera and thick volcanic deposits. A second eruption cycle concluded with the much smaller Mesa Falls Tuff around 1.3 million years ago. Activity subsequently shifted to the present Yellowstone Plateau and culminated 640,000 years ago with the eruption of the >10003km (240 mi3) Lava Creek Tuff and consequent formation of the 45 x 85 km (28 x 53 mi) caldera. Large volumes of rhyolitic lava flows (approximately 600 km3 (144 mi3) were erupted in the caldera between 180,000 and 70,000 years ago, distributed primarily along two north-south alignments of vents.

No magmatic eruptions have occurred since then, but large hydrothermal explosions have taken place during the Holocene, including from within and near Yellowstone Lake. Uplift and subsidence of the ground surface is centered on two uplifted regions (the Mallard Lake and Sour Creek resurgent domes). Large earthquakes occur just off the plateau along the nearby Teton and Hebgen Lake faults, the latter of which ruptured in 1959 (Ms = 7.5), causing considerable damage to the region. Yellowstone is presently the site of one of the world's largest hydrothermal systems including Earth's largest concentration of geysers.

News

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Hydrothermal puzzles in the lakes of Lower Geyser Basin

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What is “normal” earthquake activity in Yellowstone?

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Irving Friedman: Pioneer on the global water cycle, Yellowstone’s magma-hydrothermal system, and more

Publications

2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment

When erupting, all volcanoes pose a degree of risk to people and infrastructure, however, the risks are not equivalent from one volcano to another because of differences in eruptive style and geographic location. Assessing the relative threats posed by U.S. volcanoes identifies which volcanoes warrant the greatest risk-mitigation efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners. This update

Authors
John W. Ewert, Angela K. Diefenbach, David W. Ramsey

Science

Questions About Monitoring Yellowstone

Answers to questions about monitoring at Yellowstone.
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Questions About Monitoring Yellowstone

Answers to questions about monitoring at Yellowstone.
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Monitoring Earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park

The Yellowstone region is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States. It experiences an average of around 1,500 to 2,500 located earthquakes per year! The majority of these earthquakes are too small to be felt by humans but are detected by a sophisticated network of about 50 seismometers called the Yellowstone Seismic Network (YSN).
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Monitoring Earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park

The Yellowstone region is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States. It experiences an average of around 1,500 to 2,500 located earthquakes per year! The majority of these earthquakes are too small to be felt by humans but are detected by a sophisticated network of about 50 seismometers called the Yellowstone Seismic Network (YSN).
Learn More

Monitoring Deformation in Yellowstone National Park

Movement of the ground in Yellowstone can tell scientists a lot about what’s happening below the surface. In order to monitor subtle “deformation” of the ground, YVO relies most heavily on Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, strainmeters, and tiltmeters, with instruments that are maintained by UNAVCO.
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Monitoring Deformation in Yellowstone National Park

Movement of the ground in Yellowstone can tell scientists a lot about what’s happening below the surface. In order to monitor subtle “deformation” of the ground, YVO relies most heavily on Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, strainmeters, and tiltmeters, with instruments that are maintained by UNAVCO.
Learn More

Multimedia

Sounds of Yellowstone, Steamboat Geyser
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Steamboat Geyser — Sounds of Yellowstone (ASMR, Sleep, Concentration)
Whisper or Roar? No more secrets link
Whisper or Roar? No More Secrets (Yellowstone Volcano Update - Feb 2024)
Map of Yellowstone earthquakes that were located during 1973-2023
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Map of Yellowstone earthquakes that were located during 1973-2023
Histogram of Yellowstone earthquakes during 1973-2023
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Histogram of Yellowstone earthquakes during 1973-2023
Vertical motion at GPS station P720, near the Slough Creek Campground in the northeast part of Yellowstone National Park
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Vertical motion at GPS station P720, near the Slough Creek Campground in the northeast part of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Volcano Observatory - Top 5 Updates of 2023 link
Top 5 Updates of 2023 — Yellowstone Volcano Update for January 2024
Hydrograph showing discharge in cubic feet per second for Corwin Springs streamgage site on the Yellowstone River, MT, spanning 1889-2023
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Hydrograph showing discharge in cubic feet per second for Corwin Springs streamgage site on the Yellowstone River, MT, spanning 1889-2023
Plot of specific conductance, discharge, and temperature measured at the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs, MT, in early-mid 2023
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Plot of specific conductance, discharge, and temperature measured at the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs, MT, in early-mid 2023
Steamboat. Losing Steam? link
Steamboat: Losing steam?