Yellowstone’s NOT-so-super Eruptions

June 19 (Tuesday), 6 p.m., Teton Co. Library Auditorium– Open to Public. Presentation: “Yellowstone’s NOT-so-super eruptions, Presented by Tiffany Rivera, Westminster College of Salt Lake City

The Yellowstone Volcanic Field is best known for the three super-eruptions that have occurred over the last two million years. These eruptions devastated the landscape and left deposits of ash across North America. While the possibility of a future super-eruption entices our imaginations, the intervening & muchmore frequent, not-so-super eruptions of Yellowstone tell an often-neglected story of the repeated volcanism that occurs between caldera forming super-eruptions.

Improvements in the precision and accuracy of the argon-argon dating method allow for better resolution of Yellowstone’s eruption sequences, and in particular, allow us to decipher the timing of the not-so-super eruptions relative to the relatively rare super-eruptions. Understanding these relationships may lead to better constraints on the tempo of magma development, magmatic flux rates, and long-term periodicities for eruptions and quiescence. Further, the timing of magmatic influx into the shallow crust can be used as a proxy for the growth of continents, such as North America. This talk will explore the eruptive history of earlier Yellowstone eruptions centered near Island Park, Idaho, will present evidence for an eruptive period that until now has been previously poorly constrained, and demonstrate how new eruption age dates are permitting us to examine this volcanic system beyond the much more infrequent cataclysmic super-eruptions.