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Updating the Geologic Map

Summer 2020-2022

Since its inception, Yellowstone National Park has been the focus of many geologic studies and mapping expeditions. The most recent geologic map was published in 2001 by Robert Christiansen at a 1:125,000 scale.

Along with Christiansen’s map, 15+ geologic maps were previously published and cover many different areas of the park at many different scales.

In the past decade, Yellowstone scientists have recognized that many of these maps are not in agreement, particularly along their shared boundaries, and that more detailed field mapping is needed in multiple areas

of the park.

Our lab group is currently working in collaboration with the National Park Service and the USGS to begin the process of correcting these issues and re-mapping parts of Yellowstone.

Example Boundary Problems Yellowstone.jpg

Re-mapping new Lava Creek Tuff units at Bog Creek

Summer 2021 onward

Recent age dating (Wilson et al. 2018) on several ignimbrite units mapped as Huckleberry Ridge Tuff (HRT)

have revealed ages that are indistinguishable from the youngest supereruption,

the Lava Creek Tuff (LCT).

This indicates that at minimum, three ignimbrite outcrops on the current geologic map in and adjacent to the Sour Creek dome area in Yellowstone National Park are now known to be inappropriately assigned.

Several of these mis-mapped ignimbrite units are physically distinct from

the two major members that have been previously been described

as LCT (Christiansen 2001),

suggesting that the eruption was more complex than currently assumed,

including at least two new tuff units that were previously unrecognized.

These findings have major implications for the volume estimates for both the

HRT and LCT, a crucial parameter to constrain from a hazard’s perspective,

with additional allegations for the complexity of the LCT eruption.

Our group seeks to reconcile these uncertainties.

Bog Creek.png
Virginia Cascades.png

Storage and Evacuation of the Lava Creek Tuff

Summer 2020 onward

This project aims to systematically investigate the youngest supereruption,

the Lava Creek Tuff, which produced the modern-day Yellowstone caldera.

Our questions include:

1. How was magma positioned beneath the surface?

2. What may have triggered the magma to move to the surface?

3. Where did magma erupt from?

4. How long (days, weeks, years) did it take for all of these processes to occur?

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