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She has found that temperatures along the inflated plain have been recorded at about 85 degrees 60 feet down, where the plain bulges up about 100 feet above the lake floor. (Park spokesman Cheryl Matthews says the lake rarely reaches more than 66 degrees at the surface by late summer, and is much colder deeper down.) The inflated plain stretches 2,100 feet - about the length of seven football fields - across.
"We think this is very young," something that occurred in the last few years, Morgan said.
"We're thinking this structure could be a precursor to an hydrothermal explosive event," Morgan said last week. "But we don't think this is a volcano."
If the bulge should explode, "we think it would create a large crater." But such an explosion, smaller versions of which created Indian Pond, Duck Lake and Mary Bay itself, would probably heat up the water temporarily, create high waves, spew poison gasses and other materials into the lake for a time, and leave a rimmed underwater crater.
It's a pressing mystery that a team led by a Colorado-based scientist will try to puzzle out this month.
In a scientific paper, Lisa Morgan said the "inflated plain" is "a potential and serious hazard and possible precursor to a large hydrothermal explosion event."
Morgan chose her words carefully in an interview near Indian Pond, a seemingly placid lake created by a similar hydrothermal explosion 3,000 years ago.
"We're not saying this structure is ready to blow," said Morgan, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist based in Lakewood who specializes in volcanic terrain. "It's a significant feature. We're just not sure what it's going to do.
A REPORTER IN DENIAL OR TRYING TO KEEP US ALL CALM?
When green trees are under water on only one side of the lake, what does that tell you?
Yellowstone Lake dome unlikely to explode: Internet chatter about coming cataclsym unsupported