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The Yellowstone SuperCaldera Project

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posted on Sep, 16 2003 @ 11:48 PM
Welcome to the second ATS research project, the Yellowstone SuperCaldera Project.

Before any accusations of favortism set in, yes the timing is suspicious, however, due to current events in the real world, it was deemed of extreme importance to kick start this project as soon as possible.

Our goal with this project is to illustrate the past eruptive history of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera, define the likelihood and magnitude of near future eruption events, and to explain the likely hazards presented to the public by such eruption events.

During this project, we will chronicle historical data related to the geologic history of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera and its past eruptions, including magnitude of eruptions, global/climatic effects, amount of material ejected in past eruptions and area covered by fallout, with analysis of the associated biological effects.

We will have a discussion of the current geological situation of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera and events as relates to current geohazards and the possibility/probability of near future catastrophic eruption events, as well as potential timetable for future eruption events.

We will further discuss the pros and cons regarding the political and other ramifications of public notification of potential geohazards associated with potential eruption events of the SuperCaldera by federal and other agencies.

It is our intention to provide a critical analysis of the exact (as accurate as possible outside of direct involvement with the USGS) eruption threat posed by this formation, as well as recommendations for those populations likely to be impacted by any eruption events.

Our research team will include:

ValHall (Team Leader)

The division of labor will go along these guidelines:

Geological background and history of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera, and threat analysis of the potential GeoHazards associated with this formation.

General coordinator, and chief internet researcher for any and all associated project data and information.

Provides updated realtime monitoring of the seismic and other telemetry data from Yellowstone, along with statistical analysis of seismic trends of the SuperCaldera.

Provides remote imagery and meteorological data, with investigation on potential impacts of eruption events on current infrastructure and population densities.

Ascertain current GPS positional data from Yellowstone and provide geographic analysis of mass movements associated with the SuperCaldera.

[Edited on 8-3-2004 by ADVISOR]

posted on Sep, 17 2003 @ 12:14 AM
To get us started, here is some assorted background on the geological setting of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera. As will become very evident, this is a very volcanically active region, although because there has not been any significant volcanism during recorded times, it is often not recognized as such by those not directly related to geological studies.

Yellowstone National Park covers 2,221,766 acres, which is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. Most of the park is located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, but a small portion overlaps that state's boundaries with Montana and Idaho. The park is comprised primarily of high, forested, volcanic plateaus that have been eroded over — the millennia by glaciation and stream flow and that are flanked on the north, east, and south by mountains. The Continental Divide traverses the park from its southeastern corner to its «-western boundary. The elevation of the park averages 8,000 feet, ranging from 5,282 feet in the north, where the Gardner River drains from the park, to 11,358 feet in the east, at the summit of Eagle Peak in the Absaroka Range.

The Washburn Range in Yellowstone forms the skyline between canyon village and tower fall. From a parking area on Dunraven Pass, an altitude of 8,850' above sea level, an old road leads to the summit of Mt. Washburn at 10,243'. The 1,400' climb has much to recommend it, including geology.

Seen along the road is a dark breccia consisting of anglular volcanic stones, embedded in a fine angular matrix. This breccia formed some 50 million years ago when watery mixtures of ash and rocks flowed down mountain slopes onto then tropical lowlands. There are countless volcanic mudflows that make up the Washburn Range and mountains to the east. All were deposited over a period of 10 million years.

Bedding planes separating breccia layers are instructive. In Mount Washburn and surrounding peaks, all slope northward. Shouldn't some slope southward? Didn't debris also flow down the south slopes of ancient volcanoes? Well, where is the evidence?

We search to the south for these flows in vain. Far below us is Washburn Hot Springs, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, and Yellowstone Lake. The nearest recognizable peak is Mount Sheridan, in the Red Mountains, 37 miles south of Mount Washburn. The summits of Washburn and Sheridan are within 65 feet of each other in elevation.

Volcanic breccias sloping only north combined with
gently rolling plateaus extending south to the Red Mountains suggest that the Washburn Range is only a remnant; the northern remnant of a much larger and higher range that extended far to the south. This range is a part of the Absaroka volcanic field, which also forms the mountainous terrain east of Yellowstone Lake. But how to account for the missing southern part of the Washburn Range? The answer lies down on the plateaus forming the heart of Yellowstone. Road cuts between Dunraven Pass and Canyon Village glitter in the sun. The rock is rhyolite, the lava form of granite. It differs fundamentally in its composition, origin, and age from the volcanic rocks composing Mount Washburn. Shiny black volcanic glass (obsidian) causes the glitter.

Tens of rhyolite lava flows were erupted one after another in central Yellowstone. Canyon Village is built on one. Elephant Back Mountain, west of Lake Hotel, is another. Several flows make up the plateau between Canyon Village and Norris, and several more bound the western margins of Yellowstone Lake. Flows enclose Lewis and Shoshone lakes; they form the wooded boundaries of the geyser basins. Many streams follow seams between flows of different ages.

Lava flows can be readily dated. They contain various radioactive elements which decay to form daughter products. By measuring the relative amounts of parent material and daughter products and knowing the rate of change from parent to daughter, a geochronologist has a radioactive clock for dating the ages of flows. Analysis, though, is not simple and geologic dates are usually followed by a fudge factor such as +/- 6,000 years. Between the Washburn Range and the Red Mountains, lava flows range in age from about 500,000 years to 100,000 years. They are much younger than the 50 million-year-old Absaroka volcanics.

GIacial times never seem far away in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If you were to walk the streets of Chicago on a hot August day, you would have a rough time believing that 150 centuries ago the land beneath the sidewalk was covered by ice thousands of feet thick. In Grand Teton National Park, on the same August day, you can view a glacier. From the valley floor, the Teton Glacier is only 4.5 miles to the west and 7,000 feet up the mountain. More glaciers grace the flanks of nearby Mt. Moran.

These tuffs demonstrated conclusively that the volcanic events forming Yellowstone were not the products of many million years of geologic change ending many millions of years ago. Rather, their time scale was compressed into only the last two million years. A long geologic history would have allowed a more leisurely progression of events—a lava flow here, then a million years later another flow there. A longer geologic history would also have called for intermittent periods of magma (molten rock) formation separated by periods of volcanic quiescence. Instead, this short time scale compressed the sequence of explosions and flows and required a heat source much larger and younger than ever before imagined.

Caldera's are large basin-shaped volcanic depressions more or less circular in form. Caldera eruptions on the Yellowstone scale have a world wide frequency of perhaps once every hundred thousand years. Somewhat smaller eruptions, on the scale of Crater Lake-Mount Mazama in Oregon, are more frequent, perhaps every 1,000 years or less. Such explosive eruptions were not isolated events. Rather, they were climactic stages of magmatic processes that extended over hundreds of thousands of years.

No one has ever seen a volcanic explosion on the scale of the Yellowstone eruptions, but smaller explosions have been observed and their activity described. Consider Mount Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia to grasp some idea of what's involved when a caldera forms during or just after an ash flow eruption. For about three years the volcano rumbled and fumed before a moderate eruption on April 5, 1815 produced thundering explosions heard 870 miles away. Next morning volcanic ash began to fall and continued to fall though the explosions became progressively weaker

posted on Sep, 17 2003 @ 07:10 AM
DR has tasked me with gathering remote imaging of Yellowstone, hopefully over a fairly good time period in order to graphically detect and illustrate the changes occuring there. I am currently working on that.

But I have found a paper that I believe I need to go ahead and post. And its with the USGS

In particular look at this set of interferograms from 1993 thru 1997 and read the following associated with the images:

Six interferograms constructed using the two-pass method (for example, 12, 25). The range of colors from violet to red, shown in the color bar on the top of (B), corresponds to one cycle of phase from 0 to 2p (one fringe) representing ~28 mm of displacement between a point on the ground and the satellite. The time interval spanned by each interferogram is referenced to the horizontal time axis where the beginning of each year is marked and labeled. The red, green and blue bars attached to each interferogram indicate the corresponding time interval. The first three interferograms are sequential whereas the last three are cumulative over longer time spans (with some overlap). Where coherence is adequate, the interferograms show that deformation extends only slightly beyond the northeast caldera boundary to the northwest-southeast trending faults mapped by Christiansen (Fig. 1, (2)). (A) August 1992 to June 1993. This image shows over 30 mm of inferred subsidence centered in the northeast half of the caldera and closely associated with the SC dome. (B) June 1993 to August 1995. In this image the center of deformation has shifted to the southwest half of the caldera with with over 40 mm of subsidence associated with the ML dome. (C) August 1995 to September 1996. The main deformation mode is now uplift (~20 mm) associated with the SC dome [note the reversed color sequence toward the center of SC dome, relative to (A) and (B)]. The ML dome still appears to be subsiding slightly during this time interval. (D) August 1992 to June 1995: This image shows ~60 mm of subsidence. (E) July 1992 to August 1995 also showing ~60 mm of subsidence. (F) July 1995 to June 1997: This image shows over 30 mm of uplift.

Also, look at this figure which shows vertical displacement analysis:

Vertical displacement inferred from interferometry data at benchmarks on the leveling line shown in Fig. 1. Distance on the horizontal axis is measured along the leveling line in the direction from LB to MW (Fig. 1). Displacement inferred from interferometry (19, 20) is marked with open triangles connected with solid lines, labeled "InSAR." Displacement measured in leveling surveys is marked with the solid triangles connected with a dashed line, labeled "Leveling". The vertical error bars on the right side of (A) and (B) show the maximum estimated error in the leveling measurement (~14 mm). The error decreases to ~0 mm at the beginning of the profile. (A) Comparison of vertical displacement inferred from the interferogram in Fig. 2A (August 1992 to June 1993) (19) to that measured from September 1992 to September 1993 at benchmarks (9). (B) Comparison of vertical displacement inferred from the interferogram in Fig. 2B (June 1993 to August 1995) to that measured from September 1993 to September 1995 at benchmarks (9, 10). (C) Vertical displacement inferred at benchmarks using interferogram in Fig. 2F (July 1995 to June 1997) (19). Leveling data after September 1995 are not yet available.

I am saving any and all images I can find in case we run into sites being taken down, or changed.

posted on Sep, 17 2003 @ 08:31 AM
The purpose of this first post is to familiarize anyone who isn't up to speed on GPS technology with a little insight as well as to attempt to expalin how its used to monitor land mass movement, plot velocity vectors, and give an overall picture of how fast and in what direction a given mass is moving..if it is at all.

Whe most of us think of GPS, we think of hiking or navigating in our car or we think of smart bombs slamming with pin-point accuracy into Saddam's birthday party. GPS, however, is a broadbased technology with many facets and one of those is surveying.

The use of GPS in a surveying application requires much more deligent protocols than the average mapping or navigation project. Usually, GPS surveys must be suplimented with traditional equipment such as the theodelite, electronic distance measure (EDM) and old fashion rod and level. Why, because GPS has one Achille's heel and that is, it must have an un-obstructed open sky. When we do land mass monitoring of a large area such as this(yellowstone), unless we have a specific need to have a control point in a certain place, this can usually be mitigated by careful placement of the control points to allow good access. Many other factors must be considered before placement including, ownership of land(not a problem in yellowstone), likely stability of surrounding area (oh boy), protection from malicious vandalism (you bastards). Most are 4 to 6 feet copper rods or brass plates set on concrete.

The following are quotes from this link..

..and deal with the hows and whys of GPS..

GPS offers several advantages compared to volcano surveys that use electronic distance meters. GPS does not require lines-of-sight between benchmarks so they can be located almost anywhere as long as the site has a clear view of the sky. This is a big advantage on most volcanoes, where steep slopes at stratovolcanoes like Mount Rainier or broad, gently-sloping ones at shield volcanoes like Mauna Loa often get in the way of line-of-sight between benchmarks. Another advantage of GPS is that measurements can be made in almost any weather condition. Both horizontal and vertical changes in position can be measured to an accuracy of a few millimeters (horizontal) to several millimeters (vertical). Finally, GPS receivers are portable, require only one person to set up the equipment, and can transmit data in near real time and operate unattended for several months on batteries and solar panels.

The Global Positioning system consists of a constellation of 24 satellites. Each satellite orbits Earth twice a day at an altitude of about 20,000 km and continuously transmits information on specific radio frequencies to ground-based receivers. GPS was developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a worldwide navigation system and has been adopted by civilians for many other uses, including surveying, mapping and scientific applications. Relatively inexpensive GPS receivers like those used by pilots, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts can determine its position on the Earth's surface to within a few tens of meters. With more sophisticated receivers and data-analysis techniques, we can determine receiver positions to less than a centimeter.

The GPS satellites continuously transmit an estimate of their position, digital codes, and a precise time signal. A GPS receiver uses an internal clock and the codes to determine the distances to at least 4 satellites. Distance is calculated by multiplying the time it takes the radio signals to reach the receiver times the speed at which the signals travel - approximately 186,000 miles/second, which is the speed of light. Knowing where the satellites are located when they transmit their signals, the receiver can calculate its position on Earth or in the air. The key to is that receivers must simultaneously receive the signals from at least 4 satellites, in part because the clocks in the receivers aren't as accurate as the atomic clocks in the satellites. If the clocks in a receiver and satellite were out of sync by 1/1000th of a second, the distance measurement could be off by 186 miles! The fourth measurement essentially enables the receiver to correct its internal clock.

One thing I will add to this is that with survey GPS, a fifth sat needs to be present and a base reference station is set up with a base receiver and VHF radio which broadcast the correction factor in real-time.

With that rather lenghty but brief background on the technology used to obtain these data, I'll give an overview into the network set-up to monitor the Yellowstone area, The operating parameters, the data recorded to date, its significance, and discuss its usefulness and relevance.

In this post, we will look at the network used to monitor the area..

Also, here is some sample data plotted from the Lake Wyoming monitoring station(s). Movements era in mm and the three graphs represent movement North to South (Northings), East to West (Eastings), and verticle movement.

..Mammoth, Wyoming..

Everybody's fav. Old Faithful..

Hayden Valley..

And finally White Lake..

Also, being that this station is one the East side of the Teton fault, and has just recenltly come into operation, it caught my eye so I'll post it's graph now as well.

Teton Science School, Wyoming

In coming posts, I'll present more data of this type as well as attempt to assemble an overall motion vector for the entire area to be used in the final analysis of the group as requested by each member. I don't want to overload or flood everyone with too many specifics all at once and I hope I didn't do that this time. I felt is was important to understand the principle behind the technology as well as get a quick overview of the research and data itself.

posted on Sep, 17 2003 @ 08:36 PM
Let's start with some data, shall we?

Earthquakes are a good indication of a pending eruption. How has the Yellowstone area fared over the years?
January 1, 1995 - December 31, 1995 (1497 earthquakes)
January 1, 1996 - December 31, 1996 (1339 earthquakes)
January 1, 1997 - December 31, 1997 (1396 earthquakes)
January 1, 1998 - December 31, 1998 (1492 earthquakes)
January 1, 1999 - December 31, 1999 (3172 earthquakes)
January 1, 2000 - December 31, 2000 (1939 earthquakes)
January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2001 (2060 earthquakes)
January 1, 2002 - December 31, 2002 (2375 earthquakes)

Prior to that:
1994 - 812 earthquakes
1993 - 178 eathquakes
1992 - 153 earthquakes
1991 - 339 earthquakes
1990 - 711 earthquakes
1989 - 482 earthquakes
1988 - 228 earthquakes
1987 - 289 earthquakes

Here we see a dramatic increase in the number of quakes since 1987.

posted on Sep, 18 2003 @ 11:42 PM
I thought this might help to show just how dynamic a caldera can be...

The extent of the Yellowstone SuperCaldera in area has been well established from studies of past eruption events. The aerial extent of the magma chamber has been established through remote sensing and field studies.

However, current evidence is suggesting that the magma plume is starting to move around within the magma chamber, as evidenced in the above picture. The movement of such a large volume of magma would also explain the current reports of lake water temperature rising suddenly by 10+ degrees, the sudden extinction and conversion of mudpits into steam vents, as well as historic geysers becoming steam vents.

This is very worrying from the standpoint of a geologist, as the mass movement of a magma plume often is associated with a change within the magma chamber, be it a change in the plume volume, or ambient pressure.

And, such movement is often recorded immediately before an eruption event...

posted on Sep, 19 2003 @ 11:31 AM
Okay thrid try. For some reason the image I wanted to post won't show and deletes everything else when I preview or post it so you'll have to follow a link.. Sorry.

Anyway, I'm listing some velocity vectors dirived from the station data which will show direction of movement around the Caldera.

psvelo -O -R -Jt -Sr.2/.865/8 -A0.02/0.2/0.06 -G255/0/0 -V > plt
-123.4875 48.3898 5.87 4.98 0.02 0.01 114.91 ALBH
-119.6250 49.3226 1.62 1.87 0.02 0.01 105.35 DRAO
-120.9444 39.9746 -7.35 8.32 0.02 0.02 95.10 QUIN
-112.8605 40.6807 -2.05 -0.01 0.05 0.04 93.37 CEDA
-112.1210 40.6526 -1.40 0.27 0.05 0.04 92.30 COON
-116.8892 35.4252 -4.91 7.18 0.02 0.01 88.36 GOLD
-108.1189 34.3015 0.29 -0.50 0.02 0.01 96.56 PIE1
-104.0150 30.6805 0.18 0.94 0.02 0.02 108.42 MDO1
-91.5749 41.7716 -0.06 0.67 0.02 0.02 35.96 NLIB
-110.4002 44.5651 -0.85 1.80 0.07 0.06 88.03 LKWY
-111.8088 40.7811 -0.34 1.09 0.05 0.04 96.93 RBUT
-112.8449 39.4256 -1.66 0.25 0.05 0.04 91.97 SMEL
-110.6773 39.1910 0.51 0.90 0.06 0.05 93.32 CAST
-111.3727 40.5141 0.05 0.53 0.05 0.04 91.28 HEBE
-112.2296 41.0157 -1.09 -0.05 0.06 0.04 95.96 NAIU
-111.9283 40.2614 -1.49 0.47 0.07 0.05 91.70 LMUT
-111.9289 41.2532 0.62 0.22 0.07 0.06 80.25 EOUT
-110.6893 44.9734 0.88 1.14 0.09 0.06 89.06 MAWY
-113.2412 43.2441 -1.93 -0.28 0.11 0.09 93.52 GTRG
-110.8319 44.4518 -2.37 -2.96 0.13 0.10 87.97 OFWY
-109.5578 42.7671 0.32 0.71 0.13 0.11 89.42 BLWY
-114.4140 43.5626 -1.69 -0.43 0.18 0.14 97.00 HLID
-111.6298 45.5969 -0.42 -1.41 0.26 0.19 91.41 NOMT
-107.9965 45.9712 -0.43 -1.18 0.28 0.24 87.71 BIL1
-110.2867 44.6395 -3.23 2.15 0.39 0.29 85.46 WLWY
-110.5360 44.6136 5.10 -4.28 0.42 0.31 88.34 HVWY
-111.0637 42.7731 0.89 0.51 0.27 0.21 86.36 AHID
-110.5975 43.6741 -1.50 -0.23 0.56 0.43 87.96 TSWY

1,2 -> longitude, latitude, of station.
3,4 -> eastward, northward velocity.
5,6 -> semi-major, semi-minor axes.
7 -> counter-clockwise angle, in degrees, from horizontal axis
to major axis of ellipse.
8 -> station name.

Data derived from continuous GPS stations operated by the University of Utah, collaborative BARGEN stations in Utah, and the NGS NDGPS site at Billings, Montana.

Error ellipses show two standard-deviations (95% confident intervals).

Stations with green circles do not have enough data (< one year) to obtain accurate velocity vectors

As far as I know, this is public data posted by University of Utah.

The last comment refers to this raster image..(You don't need the language pack if it offers.)

Here is some info about ADDNEQ, the program UofU used to derive the velocity from their raw data..

Velocity estimation with ADDNEQ requires as input at least two normal equation files (.NEQ) for two distinct epochs. Obviously two input NEQ files does not provide a statistically large sample space. The estimate of velocities is also bounded by the repeatability of the station coordinates. In an ideal situation, the velocity estimates would utilize high quality daily solutions spanning multiple years. Not all data sets are so robust. In particular, it may be necessary to try and derive velocity fields from two or three campaigns spanning a time period of less than two years. In general, the velocity estimates should always be considered with some degree of scientific skepticism. Estimating a 1 mm/year velocity field with data from two camapaigns spanning one year of motion is probably not feasible. Especially if your campaign coordinate repeatability is 5 mm. Please refer to Elmar Brockmann's thesis for a more complete discussion on velocity estimation strategies [ "Combination of Solutions for Geodetic and Geodynamic Applications of the Global Positioning System (GPS)", Elmar Brockmann, Univeristy of Bern, 1996].

[Edited on 19-9-2003 by astrocreep]

posted on Sep, 21 2003 @ 12:42 AM
I have created a webpage to which I am saving all remote imaging I find.

I will post updates to this thread when I have made substantial additions to this site.

posted on Sep, 21 2003 @ 01:56 AM
As a professional geologist, one of the things that has perplexed me the most about the situation in Yellowstone, is that there are numerous eruption indicators being recorded and yet none in a position of authority has yet raised any concern to the public.

The main authority as pertains to early warning of potential seismic events and volcanic eruptions is the United States Geological Survey, or USGS. The USGS has long been monitoring Yellowstone park due to its very unique geological setting and recognized early on the potential geological hazard that the SuperCaldera posed. Today, the USGS coordinates with the US Parks and Wildlife service to keep tabs on the Yellowstone caldera through a very extensive and expensive network of remote sensing equipment, GPS ground movement recorders, EDM, seismographs, and numerous other items.

If there is an organization that is in a position to completely assess the hazard posed by the Yellowstone caldera, and the potential eruption possibilities, it is the USGS.

However, not only has the USGS NOT issued any statements regarding the potential eruption hazards of Yellowstone, much less any kind of eruption warning, they are actively downplaying the potential hazards, and appear to be debunking any possibility of eruption.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) - Geothermal activity is increasing in a Yellowstone National Park geyser basin and the bottom of Yellowstone Lake is bulging, but scientists say there is no impending major eruption.

Now, why would the USGS want to not only misinform the public about the likely dangers posed by such a massive potential eruption, and thereby endanger the public through lack of information, but to actively debunk those that do wish to inform the public of these dangers?

Around 1980, the USGS issued an eruption warning for the Mammoth Lake caldera in California:

During May 1980 a swarm of earthquakes hit the area, 4 of these had a magnitude 6, and that marked the onset of a period of unrest that continues up to now.
As illustrated in the ... some 20 small to moderate eruptions have occured along the Inyo-Mono Craters in the last 5.000 years. Does the new activity means that we can expect another eruption now? According to USGS the possibility is compareable with odds for a great (magnitude 8) earthquake occuring on the coast of California, and odds are smaller than for a major (magnitde 7 or greater) earthquake in L.A. or S.F. area.

However, when this eruption warning was issued, and it became public knowledge that the eruption referenced had a window of error in excess of 50 years, well... the USGS had some problems coming.

The basis of these problems revolved around the massive drop in property values in the affected area of the eruption warning. Several property developers who lost significant finances sued the USGS.

A new conservative leadership installed at USGS decided that silence was the best option.

Now, what are the possibilities of an upcoming eruption at Yellowstone?

If the park were ready to blow its top, there would be several signs that magma was moving toward the surface, and earthquakes would be more frequent and stronger. The ground, while often rising and falling in Yellowstone, would most likely gradually rise and the chemistry of many geysers would change.

Lets review some facts, shall we?

Large geothermally driven bulge under Yellowstone Lake.
Apparent fishkills in yellowstone lake.
Mass animal migrations out of Yellowstone (keep in mind that wildlife is a very important indicator to seismic activity)
Average ground surface bulging up to 70 cm in a year.
Bare ground temperatures in excess of 200 degrees f.
Water temperature in yellowstone lake (normally constant temp due to year round springs) rising up to 30-40 degrees above normal.
Recent spate of Magnitude 3-4 earthquakes centered in or near Yellowstone Park.
Current water and air monitoring of sulfur and mercury, both are volcanic contaminants, and precursors to volcanic activity.

I would point out that many reports indicate that a large number of geysers (which function by infiltrating groundwater deeper, closer to the magma where it is superheated and then expelled in a high temp water/steam jet) have essentially dried up and turned to strictly steam vents. A number of geysers were reported in places that were never before active with geysers, which then similarly dried up and turned into steam vents.

My interpretations of these facts, as previously mentioned on this thread, is that a large body of magma, likely the parent magma plume in the main magma chamber, is moving around, and likely expanding, getting closer to the surface. The sudden lack of liquid water in these geysers I find very disturbing, as it means that the subsurface rocks are becoming superheated, and superheating the water to strictly vapor. In addition, it appears that the superheating is taking place at a faster rate than groundwater infiltration, therefore, there is a net drop in the groundwater levels locally in the active areas.

Another very disturbing thing that I expect but have no current information on is the lake acidity. (Currently, Kukla is making an on-site inspection, and I hope to get some information from him to confirm this)

As there is obvious evidence of a large bulge under Yellowstone lake, and reports of a massive fishkill there, I suspect that the bottom of the lake may be fractured, and allowing infiltration of sulfur compounds (gaseous) into the lake. When sulfur gases are dissolved in water, it will produce sulfuric acid. However, owing to the size and volume of Yellowstone lake, minor leaks that have always been known to occur would be inconsequential, and likely be readily diluted.

However, based on the reports of fishkills, strong sulfur odor associated with the lake, I suspect a very large release of sulfur gas into the lake. I have asked Kukla to perform a field test, if he gains access to the lake, to test for the current water PH. If it returns as highly acidic, that would indicate not only a sulfur release into the lake, but one of massive proportions. This could be construed as a precursor to eruption.

posted on Sep, 21 2003 @ 07:34 AM
If it is acceptable, I would like to link to my thread on thixotropy and gel strength as referenced to magma columns.

[Edited on 21-9-2003 by Valhall]

posted on Sep, 21 2003 @ 08:00 AM
I find this to be Very informative, and relative to our project.


posted on Sep, 21 2003 @ 08:10 AM
The paper referenced in a previous post of this project thread concerning the use of interferometry to detect the deformation caused by migration of magma in the Yellowstone caldera was written in 1998.

I have found the following summary of a paper written as a follow up in 1999.

Renewed Uplift at the Yellowstone Caldera Measured by Leveling Surveys and Satellite Radar Interferometry
D. Dzurisin, C. Wicks and W. Thatcher
Paper reference: D. Dzurisin, C. Wicks and W. Thatcher, 1999, Renewed Uplift at the Yellowstone Caldera Measured by Leveling Surveys and Satellite Radar Interferometry, Bulletin of Volcanology, 61, 349-355

A first-order leveling survey across the northeast part of the Yellowstone caldera in September 1998 showed that the central caldera floor near Le Hardy Rapids rose 24±5 mm relative to the caldera rim at Lake Butte since the previous survey in September 1995. Annual surveys along the same traverse from 1985 to 1995 tracked progressive subsidence near Le Hardy Rapids at an average rate of -19±1 mm/year. Earlier, less frequent surveys measured net uplift in the same area during 1923-1976 (14±1 mm/year) and 1976-1984 (22±1 mm/year). The resumption of uplift following a decade of subsidence was first detected by satellite synthetic aperture radar interferometry, which revealed approximately 15 mm of uplift in the vicinity of Le Hardy Rapids from July 1995 to June 1997. Radar interferograms show that the center of subsidence shifted from the Sour Creek resurgent dome in the northeast part of the caldera during August 1992 to June 1993 to the Mallard Lake resurgent dome in the southwest part during June 1993 to August 1995. Uplift began at the Sour Creek dome during August 1995 to September 1996 and spread to the Mallard Lake dome by June 1997. The rapidity of these changes and the spatial pattern of surface deformation suggest that ground movements are caused at least in part by accumulation and migration of fluids in two sill-like bodies at 5-10 km depth, near the interface between Yellowsone's magmatic and deep hydrothermal systems.


I will work to find the complete paper.

posted on Sep, 22 2003 @ 08:01 AM
I just wanted to give a few more maps of the Caldera with reference to GPS stations. Please not that aside form the GPS monitoring points placed in the 2000 campaign by the University of Utah, there are also USGS continuous monitoring stations which house GPS receivers fulltime which constantly record positions and store them.

I'll try to get those velocity vectors to show up again..

Plus a pic or two of the actual station..

posted on Sep, 22 2003 @ 06:04 PM
Seismic activity has returned to background levels since the strong and sustained motion that was registered on 9/15 & 9/16. This event was recorded by four seismometers, including Granite Vault, Utah. Granite Vault is a geological feature found in the Little Cotton Wood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City, roughly 150 miles from the Yellowstone Caldera. This canyon feature is part of the Wasatch Fault line, which has long been suspected of terminating at the Yellowstone Caldera.

This report is only summary and I will be posting more regular updates as my work schedule returns to normal. I will also be developing a statistical model based on the relative strength recorded by the Park’s seismometers. This “mood meter” will help us track movement strength and may be useful in anticipating seismic events in the Park.

posted on Sep, 22 2003 @ 06:08 PM
I had to travel to job site in Southern Idaho last week and had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone this weekend. We toured most of the significant formations of the Park and discussed the developing situation with three Park Rangers.

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal areas. Many hot springs and fumaroles here have temperatures above the boiling point (199 F). Its features change daily because of water fluctuations and seismic activity.

Earthquakes occur frequently due to the intersection of three major faults beneath the Norris area. These faults combine with the basin’s primary rock type (welded tuff) to create a setting for dynamic and even explosive change.

I spoke with the Park Ranger on duty and asked her about the strong motion detected last week in the park. She responded that the movement could’ve been the product of road construction in the Park. After further probing, she referred me to the University of Utah. My companions overheard my conversation and all agreed that her response sounded scripted. I noticed that she placed a phone call shortly after our conversation and then left for a lunch break. She still hadn’t returned to her post when we were done touring the area.

The area is definitely in change and 75% of the trail system is still closed. Steamboat Geyser, which was dormant until this summer, is still very active. We watched it for at least an hour and some releases reached 25 feet in the air. These are considered minor eruptions. We also witnessed the Echinus Geyser erupt and I overheard a tour guide mention that Echinus’s eruptions have become more frequent since the renewed activity.

Nymph Lake

Nymph Lake is not a major thermal feature of the park and is located about 15 miles north of Norris Geyser Basin. We originally stopped to photograph some small thermal features near the roadside. After looking the area over, we noticed there was a new thermal area developing.

We found a relatively safe route to the area and were able to hike right up to the feature. This is definitely a new feature and given the tree loss in the area, I would suspect that it has developed within the month. The ground near the feature was very brittle and we could feel the ground vibrate when one of us walked nearby. I purchased a meat temperature probe prior to entering the park and took this reading about 20 feet from the feature.

There was at least three mud pots that were all boiling over and other smaller thermal features extended for another 50-75 feet through the forest. You could smell wood boiling and at least 50 trees had already died.

Old Faithful

I hadn’t been to Old Faithful since the large forest fire of 1986. The area has been redeveloped and there is a new lodge there. After watching the eruption I headed for the Ranger station. A Ranger who had served at Old Faithful for a decade was kind enough to answer my questions. I explained the strong readings from last week and asked her if there had been any change in the geyser’s eruption pattern. She immediately pointed out an anomalous change on Saturday. In the past several months each eruption has been roughly every two hours. On Saturday, the noon eruption came 45 minutes after the previous, and the eruption after that came 250 minutes after the previous. The Ranger commented that this timing was the strangest she’d while working at Old Faithful.

She was very interested to hear of the readings and said she would look into it after her shift. There is a very old seismogram (much different than a seismometer) installed in the station for visitors to view in real-time. The Ranger was very helpful and even showed me their graphs from the period of interest. Their graph didn’t pick up much movement on the ground, which leads me to think that last week’s movement was very deep.

West Thumb Geyser Area

West Thumb is situated on the western shore of Yellowstone Lake. This area is very active and is constantly in flux. I discussed the readings from last week with the Ranger on duty and as soon as I mentioned strong motion at Old Faithful last week, her eyes and interest immediately indicated her knowledge of the event. I went on to describe the Granite Vault readings from the same time. She then went onto explain how she had just taken a class from Lisa, the scientist who conducted the bathymetric mapping of the Lake. She explained how Lisa was looking for tele-seismic events that may be indicative of the thermal movement within the Yellowstone Caldera.

She also explained the latest thinking on the bulge at the bottom of Lake Yellowstone. It appears that Duck Lake, which sits 3-5 miles west of the West Thumb thermal features, is apparently an extinct caldera from a previous hydrothermal explosion. They also think that West Thumb is the product of a hydrothermal explosion. In regards to the new bulge in the lake, they have recently confirmed that the bottom of the lake is indeed lava flow and not glacial till. The working hypothesis is that the bulge is the result of a moving sub-chamber of magma that fueled the Duck Lake explosion, then the West Thumb explosion and could cause a hydrothermal explosion at Yellowstone Lake.

We also talked about the Caldera boundary and the official Caldera maps. She noted that the bathymetric mapping of the Lake had proved their boundary estimation incorrect. She did not have the details of where and how far, only that the maps are wrong for the Lake portion of the boundary. It leaves to wonder, where else the map may be incorrect?

The park was very busy and traffic was congested in most areas. I don’t think most visitors appreciate the developments in the park. David Letterman could have a field day with stupid human tricks here. Besides the inherent dangers at Yellowstone, it really is a must-see for anyone interested in geology and volcanoes.

[Edited on 1-10-2003 by kukla]

posted on Sep, 22 2003 @ 06:22 PM

Thank you very much for a very concise field report.

One of the most striking things I immediately noticed from your photographs were the large amounts of dead pine trees. Specifically they were obviously quickly and very recently killed, as evidenced by the fact that all the needles were newly browned but still attached firmly to the branches. I also found it very interesting to see the dead ones immediately adjacent to still green ones, which I would interpret to mean that whatever is killing them is moving very rapidly.

Thank you also for the field report from talking with park rangers. I have been thinking that a magma plume has apparently been migrating somewhere in the subsurface, which would explain the apparent migration and vaporization of so much groundwater. Your reports corroborate my suspicions. Also, after reviewing the latest GPS analysis from Astrocreep, it again looks like a good deal of mass movement to be underway across the entire region. Again, this could only be fueled by the migration of a large portion of the underlying magma plume.

Of course, this is not exactly good news...

Kukla, get back asap, and stay safe!

posted on Sep, 22 2003 @ 06:34 PM
Thanks dragonrider. It was a good trip.

The developments at Nymph are very discouraging. I mentioned the development to two Rangers and they weren’t aware of the changes. There are no markers indicating danger and I’m sure I won’t be the last to visit that area.

You could literally see the rift growing. We were all amazed at the destructive force of the upwelling. I see this as a major development as there are no large thermal features in the area. While I am leaving Southern Idaho this week, I have several volunteers who will be returning to the park in the next month. I am very curious to see what progress this rift makes in that time.

[Edited on 17-1-2004 by kukla]

posted on Sep, 24 2003 @ 05:07 AM
Here are Kukla's videos of the new thermal area he encountered.

Very good work Kukla!

New HotSpot - Part 1

New HotSpot - Part 2

New HotSpot - Part 3

New HotSpot - Part 4

New HotSpot - Part 5

posted on Sep, 24 2003 @ 11:55 AM
kukla, great work but if I may inquire..I hear the sound of an automibile in clip #1 and clip #5 is pretty silent but #2 - #4 seems to have some background noise. Could you comment on what that is? Just curious.


posted on Sep, 24 2003 @ 12:06 PM
The sound you hear is a vent steaming from a mud pot that is roughly 10 feet in diamater that seems to be the main thermal area. There were other smaller mudpots, but the one you hear on the videos is this larger pot that is pumping around 10 gallons a minute. The picture in my field report of the grey water running by trees is one of about 5 streams that have formed from the mud pot. The main mud pot was so explosive that none of came within 15 feet of it.

[Edited on 28-9-2003 by kukla]

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