Scientists Discover Massive Lake Of Molten Carbon Hiding Beneath Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is an incredible place, full of mystery and nature. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit, you probably realize just how special it is.

With iconic sites like Old Faithful, the park sees millions of tourists each year who want to experience the nature that Yellowstone has to offer.

Photo: Pixabay/Adam Derewecki

According to the United States Geological Survey, Yellowstone sits above a melting anomaly within the Earth, called a “hotspot.” It’s that hotspot that causes such a unique landscape for people to visit, but it seems there’s more hiding beneath the surface than previously believed.

Research submitted for publication back in 2016 revealed that under Yellowstone, and much of the Western United States, is a massive lake of molten carbon. The reservoir of carbon spams nearly 700,000 square miles. It’s so huge that it’s changed the way scientists view and understand the carbon cycle entirely!

Photo: Pixabay/Steve Wilson

Researchers from London’s Royal Holloway wrote about their findings in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, in an article titled, “Pervasive upper mantle melting beneath the western US.”

They used an advanced network of seismic sensors to detect the carbonate beneath the surface of the earth. Using the sensors, they discovered just how massive the one hiding beneath Yellowstone truly is.

According to Science Daily, Hier-Majumder explained, “It would be impossible for us to drill far enough down to physically ‘see’ Earth’s mantle, so using this massive group of sensors we have to paint a picture of it using mathematical equations to interpret what is beneath us.”

Photo: PXHERE/cbottner

They added, “Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate. It is a result of one of the tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean forced underneath the western USA, undergoing partial melting thanks to gasses like CO2 and H2O contained in the minerals dissolved in it.”

The large lake of carbon they discovered shows that there’s much more carbon in the upper mantle than once known – around 10,000 times more!

Photo: Flickr/Siyavula Education License: CC BY 2.0

“Releasing only 1% of this CO2 into the atmosphere will be the equivalent of burning 2.3 trillion barrels of oil,” said lead co-author Sash Hier-Majumder, according to IFLSciecne.

While the discovery shouldn’t impact cliamte change predications too much, it’ll be interesting to see what else scientists continue to learn about carbon and the atmosphere.

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