The volcanic fields of Yellowstone National Park and adjacent areas are significantly active with seismic activity. Most of the areas can be observed with red coloring representing the extent of the molten rock deep within the earth’s crust. Notably, volcanic forces are gradually weathering away the earth’s crust in and around the Yellowstone caldera. Additionally, it is evident that magma chambers and feeder pipes (connecting the various magma chambers) are nearing their developmental completion. As a result, volcanic activity has gradually risen in the Yellowstone hotspot.
A large reservoir of molten magma is observable at depths of between 19-45 kilometers. It is connected to another smaller chamber which is at a depth of 4-14 kilometers in the earth’s crust. The two chambers are connected by one primary connector tunnel although there are other smaller connector tunnels. Rising from deep within the earth’s mantle is the primary connector tunnel which feeds the large reservoir with molten magma. Subsequently, this tunnel rises from the large basin to the smaller reservoir, indicating the molten magma in the smaller chamber is from the large reservoir. Therefore, in contrast with what geologists believed since the vast reservoir was unknown until recently, thus, the magma in the smaller reservoir was thought to rise directly from the mantle.
The area in and around Yellowstone National Park has experienced three exceptionally large caldera-forming volcanic eruptions within the past 2.1 million years. The first volcanic eruption was large enough to form a caldera which was 60 miles (100 km) from one end to the other. Moreover, it formed a large area covered with volcanic ash known as the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff. The second eruption created the Mesa Falls Tuff which is a vast area covered with volcanic ash. The third eruption resulted in the Yellowstone Caldera which is 35 miles wide and 50 miles long; additionally, it formed the Lava Creek Tuff.
The first Yellowstone volcanic is the largest volcanic eruption in history. Moreover, other eruptions include Tambora (Indonesia) and Novarupta (Alaska). While these eruptions were enormous, they cannot be compared with the extent of the Yellowstone eruptions.
Lava flows are large areas covered with flowing lava which has erupted from a nearby caldera. Subsequently, the Yellowstone National Park area under lava flows presently serves as a hiking area for visitors. Due to the volcanic activity found in the Yellowstone National Park, earthquakes are a common feature. Notably, estimates opine the earthquakes are 1000 to 3000 each year. As a result, earthquakes are responsible for the hydrothermal explosions that occur from pent-up steam pressure in the earth’s crust. The steam pressure is as a result of water that is heated by molten magma. In summary, Yellowstone National Park is well known for its hydrothermal explosions and they have created a famous geyser called Old Faithful.
The primary geologic hazards at Yellowstone are lava flows, earthquakes and hydrothermal explosions. Even though the chances of any of these happening on a major scale are low, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) is tasked with observing and analyzing any signs that point to a volcanic occurrence. Moreover, the YVO is responsible for implementing early warning systems so that the public can be aware of any volcanic eruption.