Scientists study Yellowstone eruption

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Two university professors are launching a project to remap the entire Sour Creek Dome area of Yellowstone National Park and collect samples to better understand the geological history of the volcanic eruption in that area.

Although Yellowstone is very unlikely to have another major explosive eruption in our lifetimes, understanding the timing of past eruptions and what triggered them can give volcanologists insight as to what the beginning of any future eruption might look like.

Montana State University Graduate Student Raymond Salazar will be collecting and analyzing to identify the pre-eruptive magma compositions, which can be used to estimate the temperature and depth of the magma chamber.

The importance of this information lies in determining whether these two new units were “leaks” of a single large “Lava Creek magma body,” or were separate pools of magma, as well as trying to understand what triggered these earlier outbreaks.

The Lava Creek eruption is dated about 631,000 years ago and formed what is today known as the Yellowstone Caldera. The project to analyze the deposits there has already begun changing scientists’ perspective on how the event unfolded.




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