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Yellowstone Hotspot: Researchers find source of Supervolcano's Heat

Researchers used seismic tomography to find Yellowstone hotspot suspected of being part of a mantle plume derived from the Earth's robe and core. "Steal" monitoring of heat can prevent next Yellowstone outbreak.
Mark Ralston | AFP / Getty Images )

A giant volcano is located under Yellowstone National Park and the heat it generates drives all hot springs and geysers in the area, but where does this heat come from?

Yellowstone Hotspot

Researchers describe Yellowstone as a hotspot marked by anomalous high temperature. The intense heat produced by this hot spot is responsible for melting the crust and the formation of basaltic and rhyolic magma.

Hotstone hotspot is fixed within the Earth's mantle and has long been suspected of being part of a mantle plume, a blast of abnormal hot rock in the Earth's mantle. Mantle plumes can originate from the boundary separating the mantle and the core about 1

,850 miles below the surface.

To find evidence of a plume under Yellowstone, researchers Peter Nelson and Stephen Grand, from the University of Texas, studied seismic tomography, a technique for depicting the Earth's underground surfaces using seismic waves caused by earthquakes or explosions. The data provided evidence of plum that stretched from the core mantle all the way to the bottom of the crust at Yellowstone.

"The model reveals a single narrow cylindrically shaped slow anomaly, about 350 km in diameter, which we interpret as a full-plume plume. The deviation is leaned to the northeast and stretches from the core boundary to the Yellowstone hot spot," wrote the researchers in his study as was published in Nature Geoscience in March. "Our results strongly support a deep source for Yellowstone hotspot."

Prevention of Yellowstone Outbreak by Stealing Supervolcano's Heat

Yellowstone eruption about 600,000 years and its next outbreak can be catastrophic. A group of NASA scientists and engineers have previously revealed the idea of ​​stealing the volcano's heat to prevent outbreaks.

If more heat could be extracted, the volcano could not break out. NASA estimates that the volcanic eruption of its outbreak by 35 percent could ward off an explosion.

The idea is to drill a hole in the volcano's side and pump water through it. The circulating water would come back warmed to over 600 degrees, giving enough time to slowly take enough heat from the volcano and prevent an explosion.

"You must give the geothermal companies incentives to drill a bit deeper and use warmer water than they would normally," says Brian Wilcox from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "The long-term advantage is that you prevent a future outbreak of surveillance that would destroy humanity."

Researchers, however, acknowledged that this perception of saving the earth from an overblown outbreak is far from perfect.

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