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Evidence in the Cassia Hills of Idaho reveals 12 catastrophic eruptions

Ancient super-eruptions west of Yellowstone, USA, were investigated by an international initiative to examine the frequency of massive volcanic events. Yellowstone famously erupted cataclysmically in recent times, but these were just the latest of a longer succession of huge explosive eruptions that burned a track from Oregon eastward toward Yellowstone during the past 16 million years.

Evidence in the Cassia Hills of Idaho reveals 12 catastrophic eruptions
The Cassia Hills of southern Idaho preserve evidence of twelve catastrophic 
large-scale explosive eruptions [Credit: Knott et al.]
The Cassia Hills of southern Idaho preserve evidence of twelve catastrophic large-scale explosive eruptions, which left widespread glassy deposits fused to the landscape. Each deposit preserves subtly distinctive magnetic, mineralogical, and chemical characteristics that allow them to be traced great distances.

Painstaking work by Thomas R. Knott and colleagues has revealed records of previously undiscovered large-scale eruptions, which caused Earth's crust in the area to subside by more than three kilometers, leaving a deep volcanic basin along the Snake River Plain. These older volcanic eruptions were hotter and probably more frequent than the Yellowstone eruptions.

The findings have been published in Geological Society of America Bulletin.

Source: Geological Society of America [March 11, 2016]
TANN

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