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Yellowstone's Quiet Power

Volcanic News: Wyoming, USA
Photo: Sitting on a tripod, a Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna, powered by portable solar-energy panels, measures gradual movements of Earth's crust in Hot Springs Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. University of Utah researchers have published 17 years worth of GPS data showing how a giant plume of hot and molten rock beneath Yellowstone shapes the landscape of the park and a wide area around it. Credit: Jamie Farrell, University of Utah
March 01, 2007
A 17-year University of Utah study of ground movements shows that the power of the huge volcanic hotspot beneath Yellowstone National Park is much greater than previously thought during times when the giant volcano is slumbering.
The $2.3 million study, which used Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to measure horizontal and vertical motions of Earth’s crust from 1987 to 2004, found that the gigantic underground plume of molten rock known as the Yellowstone hotspot exerts itself forcefully even when it isn’t triggering eruptions and earthquakes.
As it bulges upward, the hotspot expends 10 times more energy by gradually deforming Earth’s crust at Yellowstone than by producing earthquakes. -- The subterranean volcanic plume, 300 miles wide at its top end, may explain why ground along the Teton fault moves in directions just the opposite of those expected, a perplexing discovery that complicates efforts to predict when the fault might generate disastrous 7.5 earthquakes near the ski resorts of Jackson Hole.

A full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone caldera could result in millions of deaths locally and catastrophic climatic effects globally
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