Dr. Jeff Hungerford
National Park Services
Monitoring the Yellowstone Volcano
With the world’s largest concentration of hydrothermal features, widespread deposits from large-scale volcanism and glaciation, and ongoing tectonism, Yellowstone National Park provides an ideal setting to continually monitor and study dormant and active geologic processes. Yellowstone’s geologic history spans major mountain-building events, three caldera-forming eruptions, pre- and post-caldera basaltic and rhyolitic eruptions, and major glaciations. The most recent caldera-forming eruption, the 630 ka Lava Creek Tuff, formed the ~1000 mi2 Yellowstone Caldera: the centerpiece of the Yellowstone Plateau, which is the focus of current monitoring efforts. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO)—a consortium of federal and state government institutions—spearheads many monitoring and hazard assessment projects throughout Yellowstone. These monitoring projects include the deployment and maintenance of seismic stations to detect earthquakes, campaign and continuous Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, borehole strainmeters, and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to detect ground deformation, and data loggers with thermistors to record hydrothermal feature temperatures. This multidisciplinary approach to monitoring the Yellowstone Volcano allows YVO to take heed of all of the vital signs of the volcanic and hydrothermal systems and better understand how these systems interrelate spatially and temporally.
Recent article by Dr. Hungerford.