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How huge magma reservoir was found in Yellowstone 'supervolcano'

Scientists have discovered a huge magma reservoir in Yellowstone 'supervolcano'.

Researchers used seismic tomography technique to produce a complete picture of the volcanic "plumbing system" at Yellowstone, from the mantle of the Earth up to the surface.

It is notable that this is one of the most dynamic volcanic systems in the world that were previously unknown reservoir of hot, partly molten rock. According to researchers, the size of Yellowstone can facilitate the filling up of Grand Canyon 11 times.

This is the second, deeper reservoir of 4.5 times larger after a discovery of another large magma chamber under Yellowstone which is said to have fed the eruptions 2 million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago.

Though Yellowstone mainly contains solid hot rock, some of the rock formations on the reservoir are melted. The volcanic system of Yellowstone has remained unchanged for nearly 17 million years though with slight deviations that may have been caused by shifts in the North American tectonic plate.

The volume of the newly imaged, deeper reservoir is a whopping 11,000 cubic-miles (46,000 cubic kilometers), which is about the volume of Long Island with 9 miles of hot rock piled on it, or 300 Lake Tahoes.

"It's existence has been suspected for a while," said University of Utah geophysicist Hsin-Hua Huang of the newly imaged hot reservoir. Huang is the lead author of a paper announcing the discovery in the Thursday issue of the journal ScienceExpress.

In order to see deeper, a wider array was needed by scientists to record how seismic waves from more distant earthquakes behaved as they passed through the unexplored zone under Yellowstone, Huang said.

"Until now we hadn't combined this data," Huang said. It's the blending of that data that allowed Huang and his colleagues to see the giant hot, partially melted zone. "It's not a new technique, but no one had ever applied it to Yellowstone."