Mantle Hotspot Beneath a Continental Mass
A So-Called Supervolcano

What powers Yellowstone? For years this was a highly debated question. Some proposed that the feature that supplies heat for the eruptions and for the geysers came from a depth of a few hundred miles in the upper mantle. Others suggested that it was a feature that extended deep into the Earth.

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The geyser Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park.

The ability to now see deep inside the Earth using seismic tomography has now settled the question: There is a plume of hot mantle that originates at the core-mantle boundary nearly two thousand miles beneath the surface that rises upward through the mantle and causes magma to form and provides the heat energy to drive the many geothermal features at Yellowstone.

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Old Faithful at night.

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Great Fountain Geyser in evening twilight.

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At the edge of Grand Prismatic Spring

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A witness to geologic activity at Yellowstone

The geyser Old Faithful

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Great Fountain Geyser in daylight.