Thanks to new measuring techniques, geophysicists have discovered that the underground plume that feeds Yellowstone's Supervolcano is much, much larger than we thought. What was once assumed to be an already large 150 miles long is now a gigantic 400 miles pool of molten rocks and hot briny water for the Volcano to power up on. Gulp.
The discovery was made through a new measuring technique called magnetotelluric imaging, that sizes up the plume by taking a peak at its electrical conductivity. That differs from the previous measuring method called seismic tomography, which used earthquake waves to create an image. The University of Utah geophysicists who conducted the study says the two methods are both capable but "it's like comparing ultrasound and MRI in the human body; they are different imaging technologies".
And though the new discovery doesn't mean the volcano is on the verge of erupting, it does reminds us how intimidatingly huge volcanos can be. Let's not mess with it. [University of Utah—Thanks Christine!]
Image Credit: abdn.ac