Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESA satellite reveals Yellowstone’s deep secret

10.03.2006


The rim of the Yellowstone Caldera


Satellite images acquired by ESA’s ERS-2 revealed the recently discovered changes in Yellowstone’s caldera are the result of molten rock movement 15 kilometres below the Earth’s surface, according to a recent study published in Nature.

Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry, InSAR for short, Charles Wicks, Wayne Thatcher and other U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists mapped the changes in the northern rim of the caldera, or crater, and discovered it had risen about 13 centimetres from 1997 to 2003.

InSAR, a sophisticated version of ’spot the difference’, involves mathematically combining different radar images, acquired from as near as possible to the same point in space at different times, to create digital elevation models and reveal otherwise undetectable changes occurring between image acquisitions.



"We know now how mobile and restless the Yellowstone caldera actually is. Ground-based measurements can be more efficiently deployed because of our work," Thatcher said. "The research could not have been done without satellite radar data."

About 640,000 years ago, a massive volcano erupted in Yellowstone, creating the caldera, which measures some 45 kilometres wide and 75 kilometres long, in the centre of Yellowstone National Park.

At the same time the northern rim of the caldera began rising – referred to as the North Rim Uplift Anomaly (NUA) – in 1997, the floor of the caldera began sinking.

According to the article, published on 2 March 2006, the floor sank as the molten rock (magma) flowed out of the caldera into the Yellowstone volcanic system.

The uplift of the caldera’s rim is theorised to have occurred even as the floor sank because one of the natural valves, which allow the magma to enter into the volcanic system, was unable to accommodate the increased flow of magma, causing it to accumulate beneath the north caldera boundary.

The magma movement may have also triggered the sudden rise in temperatures at the Norris Geyser Basin and the eruption of the Steamboat Geyser in 2000. The world’s largest geyser, Steamboat had been inactive for nine years, but erupted five times between 2000 and 2003.

The disturbances in the geyser during that three-year period are not unique in Yellowstone’s history, but, as stated in the article, this is the first time the changes in the deformation field in the park suggests a cause-and-effect relationship – thanks to the use of InSAR data.

Despite the activity in the caldera, Thatcher said the likelihood for a magmatic eruption is extremely low. However, the area poses other potential risks.

"The possibility of a steam-water explosion (’Phreatic eruption’) is perhaps the greatest risk. Its effects would be quite local, but still potentially dangerous," he said.

Having access to data over long periods of time is important for scientists to identify and analyse long-term trends and changes. ESA now has a 15-year archive of homogenous data thanks to the continuity of satellites ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat. Envisat and ERS-2, with a difference in overpass time of 30 minutes, are continually adding to the archive.

"The complete aerial coverage and frequent repeat satellite passes creates a unique suite of deformation measurements of restless volcanoes worldwide. They are particularly useful in remote and inaccessible areas. We will continue to monitor Yellowstone with InSAR imaging," Thatcher said.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM9YBNVGJE_planet_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>