Hidden tunnels discovered under Yellowstone

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at Virginia Tech have created the first map of underground pathways under Yellowstone. They studied the tunnels through which hot hydrothermal fluids move, as well as geological faults and cracks, reports Nature.

Yellowstone is a national park in the northwestern United States. On its territory is the Yellowstone Caldera – the largest supervolcano on the continent. It has produced three devastating eruptions in the last two million years.

The Yellowstone area is characterized by increased geological and seismic activity. The US Geological Survey regularly records tremors of varying degrees of power there.

A new study has helped scientists better understand what is happening in the bowels of Yellowstone. They studied the area using the SkyTEM312 device. The device was installed on board the helicopter.

SkyTEM312 sends down pulses of electromagnetic signals. Scientists recorded the response and judged the characteristics of the breed based on it.

The authors of the study emphasized that they had previously studied the features of the surface of Yellowstone quite well. In addition, they explored the igneous and tectonic system, which lies several kilometers underground.

“But we don’t really know what’s in the middle. This project allowed us to fill these gaps for the first time,” said geophysicist Stephen Holbrook.

The results of the study showed that many of the famous features of the park are located above clay-covered channels that run along cracks and faults in volcanic rocks. This is indicated by the low electrical resistance of the terrain.

Subsurface underground water flows through the channels, mixing with heated streams coming from a depth of more than a kilometer under the park. Changes in this mixture result in decompression boiling, outgassing and conductive cooling and produce the thermal phenomena for which Yellowstone is known.

Although scientists could not identify individual underground channels, the information they received was recognized as very useful for various fields of science. Geologists, biologists and hydrologists have already become interested in the results of the study.

The work will also make it possible to predict future eruptions in the national park. When clay layers become temporarily plugged, it results in a potentially explosive buildup of gases.

Earlier it became known that the Yellowstone volcanoes were 30 million years older than previously thought. Their age was estimated at 50 million years.


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