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Yellowstone Supervolcano Is Hiding Something Strange Underneath Its Surface -- What Is It?

Feb 24, 2017 01:18 AM EST

Scientists have discovered something strange deep beneath the Yellowstone's supervolcano and the greater area of Western U.S. As it turns out, the area is sitting on top of a massive molten layer of carbonate rocks.

“Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate,” Sash Hier-Majumder, lead co-author of the study, revealed in a press release from the Royal Holloway University of London.

According to the study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the liquidized carbonate rocks sprawl over 1.8 million square kilometers. Hier-Majumder said the reservoir contains an extremely high amount of carbon that releasing only 1 percent of its total amount is equal to burning 2.3 trillion of oil barrels.

Read Also: One of the World's Largest Supervolcanoes Is Showing Signs of Imminent Eruption

Hier-Majumder said the reservoir is a result of tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean getting forced underneath the western U.S. The movement resulted to partial melting of minerals from the plates which contain carbon dioxide and hydrogen dioxide.

In order to get an idea of the reservoir's physical characteristics, the team used group sensors (because they could not drill into the site) and interpreted their collected data via mathematical equations. The team said the carbon dioxide from the newly discovered carbon reservoir will slowly be released to the surface through volcanic eruptions. IFL Science notes that the reservoir has a small effect with regard to climate change despite its massive size but has other impacts in the environment.

“We might not think of the deep structure of the Earth as linked to climate change above us, but this discovery not only has implications for subterranean mapping but also for our future atmosphere,” Hier-Majumder added.

Read Also: Man Dies Inside Acidic Hot Spring at Yellowstone National Park

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