Exhibits > Why
Geysers Erupt > Underlying
Geology > Exploring the Hotspot
Exploring the Hotspot
The Yellowstone Volcano is a hotspot—an area on the Earth’s
surface that shows signs of long-lasting volcanic activity. Hotspots
are not fully understood. One theory suggests that the Yellowstone
hotspot is caused by the North American plate slowly drifting over
a stationary heat source. In this theory, a plume of magma rises
from the core-mantle boundary of the Earth to trigger a chain of
volcanic eruptions at the surface.
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Another theory proposes that the continental plate is slowly pulling
apart here, allowing the hot, plastic rock to melt in areas weakened
by stretching and thinning.
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