Anatomy of Old Faithful and Yellowstone; magma from earth's core to hot springs and geysers
mediaposted on 12.07.2018, 00:00 authored by Robert Smith
We have conducted detailed seismic studies of the plumbing anatomy of Old Faithful, the iconic geyser of Yellowstone, to determine its 3D structure and dynamic eruption properties. These studies reveal that Old Faithful is located at the edge of large hydrothermal reservoir composed of highly fractured rock, hot water and steam located west of the geyser and extending a km beneath the Old Faithful Lodge and other infrastructure. We found that Old Faithful eruptions do not have a notable seismic signal but large seismic signals of a precursor tremor every 95 minutes just prior to the eruption that we can now predict within seconds with the seismic signals. Moreover we show how Yellowstone's immense volcanic system is part of a giant mantle convection system originating at ~2700 km deep as a magmatic plume of partly molten rock rising in a conduit up to 70 km wide to underlie two shallow magma reservoirs beneath Yellowstone as shallow as 5 km at Old Faithful. Bob's group is now conducting detailed seismic studies of the world's tallest geyser, Steamboat, where I will show the initial results on monitoring this giant geyser. Overall these studies demonstrate the dynamics of the entire 400 km wide Yellowstone hotspot that has had a profound impact on the evolution of most of the western U.S. since Yellowstone volcanism began 800 km SW and 17 million years ago beneath SW Idaho.