Where Is Yellowstone Volcano Located – The Pacific Northwest of the United States has many tectonic activities, including plate convergence in the Cascadia subduction zone and divergence in the Basin and Range continental rift zone. But superimposed in the active tectonic features is a line of volcanic activity that stretches from the Columbia Plateau in eastern Oregon and Washington to the Yellowstone Plateau at the intersection of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
Shaded resolution map of the United States, showing National Park Service locations in hotspot areas Letters are abbreviations for the locations below. Areas of the Columbia Plateau in Oregon and Washington, the Snake River Plain in Idaho, and the Yellowstone Plateau lie along the Yellowstone Hotspot, which is now under Yellowstone National Park.
Where Is Yellowstone Volcano Located
Robert J. Adapted from “Parks and Plates: Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments and Seashores” by Lilly, New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 298 pp., 2005, www.amazon.com/dp/0134905172.
More Magma Found Below Yellowstone Caldera Than Expected
The Yellowstone Hotspot track is superimposed on other tectonic provinces in the Pacific Northwest. The hotspot first appeared 17 million years ago as a giant pool of liquid basalt lava in the Columbia Plateau and Steins Basalt region. The surface of the hotspot is affected by a decrease in the current occurring along the Cascadia subduction zone where the Juan de Fuca plate descends below the surface. Since then the North American plate has moved west-west of the hot spot, so the chain of rhyolite volcanic center (red blobs) extends across the Snake River Plain to Yellowstone. This line of supervolcanism is common with the rifting countries formed in the Basin and Range Province.
Adapted from “Oregon’s Island in the Sky: Geology Road Guide to Mary’s Peak” by Robert J. Lilly, Wells Creek Publishers, 75 pp., 2017, www.amazon.com/dp/1540611965.
The Columbia Plateau has been the site of massive volcanic activity, unmatched anywhere else in the world, over the past 17 million years. Lava from large eruptions in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington is fluid that flows far, creating the many layers of basalt known to visitors to the Columbia Gorge. . Some of the lava traveled more than 300 miles (500 km) into the Pacific Ocean. These large volcanoes are caused by hot objects deep in the Earth’s mantle. Over 17 million years ago, the North American continent drifted west-west of this hot spot. Yellowstone National Park’s amazing hot springs, oceans, and other hydrothermal features are now the epitome of hotspot activity.
Yellowstone National Park
The basalt columns represent large volumes of liquid lava that covered large swaths of Oregon, Washington and Idaho as the volcano erupted 17 million years ago.
Yellowstone National Park’s geysers, hot springs, and other geothermal features are reminders that the supervolcano directly above the hotspot is still alive.
A large head of a rising mantle plume is 500 miles (800 kilometers) in diameter. The volume of basaltic magma that begins to rise from the overriding plate can be so large that it does not matter what crust is capping the plate – more basaltic lava is poured onto the surface. Several lava flows in the Columbia Plateau and Steins Basalt region of southeastern Oregon are believed to represent the original source of the Yellowstone hotspot that began 17 million years ago. Since then, the North American plate has moved west-west of the Yellowstone hotspot. Beginning near the Oregon/Nevada/Idaho junction 16 million years ago, a line of rhyolite magma centers—supervolcanos—formed across what is now the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho. Today’s Yellowstone National Park is located directly above the hotspot.
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High-resolution map of the Pacific Northwest showing National Park Service locations along the Yellowstone Hotspot Track. Texts are abbreviations for places listed near the top of this page The Yellowstone hotspot appeared 17 million years ago as a large outpouring of basalt lava in the Columbia Plateau-Steins basalt region. Since then, the North American plate has moved west-west, creating a chain of supervolcanoes across southern Idaho in Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Plateau is a broad area of high elevation directly above the hotspot, while the Snake River Plain is gradually subsiding as the plate moves away from the hot spot.
Volcanic rocks in the Pacific Northwest show the movement of tectonic plates over a deep-mantle hotspot.
The number is the early volcanic age (millions of years ago). Letters are abbreviations for National Park Service locations near the top of this page.
Yellowstone Scientists Find New Thermal Area; No, It Doesn’t Mean A Volcano Eruption Is Coming
The above image is adapted from “The Beauty of the Beast: Plate Tectonics and Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest” by Robert J. Lilly, Wells Creek Publishers, 92 pp., 2015, www.amazon.com/dp /1512211893.
When only the stem remained, magma mixed with molten continental crust and became rich in silica, creating rhyolite lavas that poured across southern Idaho and Yellowstone.
Along with black lights and hookahs, the lava lamp is an important symbol of the psychedelic 1960s. Observing what happens when we turn on the lava light can help us understand the evolution of the Columbia Plateau-Yellowstone hotspot track. It is not clear why the deep mantle is heated. But when it expands like hot wax in a lava light. The wax increases as it becomes less of the surrounding oil. Sometimes growing wax will take the shape of a mushroom with a big head and a narrow stem. Similarly, the heated mantle deep in the Earth is less dense than the surrounding material. Although it is still solid, the heated mantle can slowly rise to the surface. And like the wax of a lava lamp it can produce mushrooms. Magma that melts out of the mantle of the hotspot begins to have a low-silica, basalt composition. When the Yellowstone hotspot first reached the surface 17 million years ago, it was shaped like a mushroom, with a large head and a narrow body. Large showers of basalt lava cover the Columbia Plateau and the Steens basalt region.
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After a few million years, the hotspot’s mushroom head disintegrates, leaving only a thin stem. Plate motion sweeps the expansive basalt lava area away, but magma rising from the stem must work its way to the surface. That’s when the thickness and composition of the continental crust comes into play. Basaltic melts from hotspot stems, in fact, create two-layer magma chambers in the overriding plate. The lowest, at the base of the crust, holds a low-silica (basalt / gabbro) composition. Magma rising from that layer melts through the thick, silica-rich continental crust, creating high-silica (rhyolite/granite) magma chambers in the upper crust. A narrow band of cracked, rhyolite volcanoes formed on the surface of the moving plates.
The area of rhyolite in the snake river plains form the area of volcanic activity rather than a long ridge. This situation is similar to what is seen in the Pacific Ocean, where the islands are next to each other on top of the Hawaiian hotspot. “Islands” of rhyolite, rising slightly in the northeast, extend across the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho. Like the Big Island of Hawaii, a high plateau, the Yellowstone Plateau, lies directly above the hotspot.
The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in northeastern Oregon contains incredible examples of animals, plants, and other fossils. These fossils are preserved in sedimentary layers that were deposited between 54 and 6 million years ago. The fossils contain lava flows – part of the large volume of basalt that forms the Columbia Plateau in northeastern Oregon and southern Washington. Liquid lavas are pouring from long cracks, like those seen erupting from the split between the volcanoes in Hawaii and Iceland. More than 20 rivers, all about 1,600 feet (500 m) in thickness, can be found in the Picture Gorge in the monument.
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Sheep rocks in the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument are capped by resistant Columbia Plateau basalt. The layers of lakes, rivers and volcanic ash deposits contain a remarkable array of horses and other fossils.
One of the many beautiful paintings in the Thomas Condon Visitor Center at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument depicts ancient life in the Columbia Plateau landscape. Note the columnar basalt columns in the foreground.
As the lava flow cools, it shrinks, leaving the surface of the flow under tensile forces that create cracks, called “bones”. If the cooling is not uniform, the poles try to form, but there is a gap between the cracks. Octagonal (eight-sided) columns are also available. The most effective forms are hexagonal (six-sided) lines, without cracks.
Salt Lake City, Utah Yellowstone National Park: History And Nature
Adapted from “The Beauty of the Beast: Plate Tectonics and Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest” by Robert J. Lilly, Wells Creek Publishers, 92 pp., 2015, www.amazon.com/dp/1512211893.
The Yellowstone region is a bit like Hawaii – it’s part of an electric line that ages slowly in one direction. Only the “island” west of Yellowstone is part of the North American continent. Actually standing in the middle of Yellowstone National Park is a lot
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