Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited each year in the United States. In addition to the beauty of its landscapes, the park is well known for having the largest hydrothermal system in the world. It contains around 10,000 hydrothermal hotspots like geysers, mud pots, and steam vents where the water can reach 121°F (92°C).
To date, scientists had not identified what this natural “pipe system” was like that heated the water to such temperatures. Now, a new investigation has revealed the secret using a device called SkyTEM312 which was transported by helicopter.
This device sends bursts of electromagnetic signals towards the ground and thanks to this it was possible to verify that underground there is a whole network of waterways that are overheated by the underground magma, which causes the water to rise to the surface. The park’s hot springs structures sit on high-flow, clay-covered channels that run along faults and fractures in volcanic rocks.
Despite this finding, scientists have not yet been able to perform a deeper detection to reveal the rest of the park’s hydrothermal network.
“It’s like a mystery sandwich. We know a lot about the surface features from direct observation and a fair amount about the magmatic and tectonic system several kilometers below from geophysical work, but we don’t really know what’s in between,” explains geophysicist Steven Holbrook, who It is part of the investigation.