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Recycling at Yellowstone National Park
This Why Files short article discusses some new research on Yellowstone Caldera, a giant volcanic hotspot in Wyoming. Rock has been remelted inside the caldera. Using highly sensitive techniques to extract data from almost microscopic zircon crystals, two geologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that over the past 2 million years, the giant Yellowstone volcano erupted at 700,000-year intervals. Oxygen isotopes, which indicate exposure to near-surface water, were used with age information to determine the interval. A map shows that ash was deposited over much of the western United States during the latest eruption, 600,000 years ago. One researcher said that the finding may alter our view of how much magma and heat are leaving the depths of the Earth.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • General public
Type of resource:
  • Visual:
    • Map
  • Text:
    • Report
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geochemistry
    • Geologic time
    • Mineralogy or petrology
  • Natural hazards
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 2001, University of Wisconsin, Board of Regents.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-001-093
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Author: David Tenenbaum
The Why Files

Editor: Terry Devitt
The Why Files

Contributor: S. V. Medaris
The Why Files

Contributor: Jennifer Pearson
The Why Files

Contributor: Amy Toburen
The Why Files

Publisher: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Graduate School