Category: The Yellowstone Caldera

The Yellowstone Caldera – Most active calderas in the world

The Yellowstone Caldera is one of the largest and most active calderas in the world. The spectacular geysers, boiling hot springs, and mud pots that have made Yellowstone famous, and even the strikingly beautiful Grand Canyon of Yellowstone through which the Yellowstone River plunges, owe their existence to the tremendous volcanic forces that have affected the region during the past 2 million years. The caldera is buried by several extensive rhyolite lava flows erupted between 75,000 and 150,000 years ago.

Yellowstone National Park is the first established national park in the United States, and is widely held to be the first established national park in the world. Yellowstone National Park is so large that is covers three states, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The majority of the national park is located in Wyoming and is truly one of America’s greatest treasures. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera in Yellowstone National Park and is the reason Yellowstone has all the geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles. Yellowstone is one of the largest known volcanoes in the world and the largest volcanic system in North America. The volcano is found above an intra-plate hot spot that has been feeding the magma chamber underneath Yellowstone for at least 2 million years.  Yellowstone’s world-famous natural history is marked by such colossal volcanic events that their reflections in today’s landscape are difficult to grasp and impossible to take in at just a glance, even for those familiar with the signs of past volcanic  The features of Yellowstone National Park result from great explosive eruptions and profound collapse of the ground, enormously thick lava flows, uplift and extensive faulting, and the erosive power of flowing water and ice. For more than a century, geologists have discovered and analyzed evidence of the dramatic events that have shaped the land here. When combined with growing knowledge about how volcanoes work and the never-ending motion of Earth’s surface, the evidence tells a remarkable story of the Yellowstone landscape This volcanic region has evolved through 3 cycles of voluminous outpourings of rhyolite lava and volcanic ash, each of them climaxing with one of Earth’s greatest pyroclastic-flow eruptions and the resulting collapse of a central area to form a large caldera. Yellowstone’s volcanic is only the most recent in a 17 million-year history of volcanic activity that has occurred progressively from southwestern Idaho to Yellowstone National Park. At least six other large volcanic centers along this path generated caldera-forming eruptions; the calderas are no longer visible because they are buried beneath younger basaltic lava flows and sediments that blanket the Snake River Plain. The last eruption of a super volcano was in Toba, Sumatra, and 75,000 years ago. It had 10,000 times the explosive force of Mount St. Helens and changed life on Earth forever. Thousands of cubic miles of ash were thrown into the atmosphere, so much that it blocked out light from the sun all over the world. Two thousand five hundred miles away 14 inches of ash coated the ground. Global temperatures plummeted by 21 degrees. The rain was so poisoned because of the gasses that it turned black and strongly acidic. Mankind was pushed to the edge of extinction; the population forced down to just a couple of thousand people worldwide. Three quarters of all plants in the Northern Hemisphere were killed.

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