Exhibits > Why
Geysers Erupt > Underlying
Geology > Exploring the Hotspot
Exploring the Hotspot
Moving in a southwesterly direction at the rate of one inch (2.5
cm) per year, the North American continental plate has
passed over a shallow chamber of partially molten rock, leaving
behind a trail of volcano tracks.
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Over the course of 16.5 million years, approximately 15-20 massive
eruptions have left immense calderas (craters) to dot the landscape
from the Nevada-Oregon border through Idaho’s Snake River
Plain to Yellowstone National Park. Eventually the movement of the
plate brought the Yellowstone area into contact with the shallow
body of magma and the stage was set for more volcanic fireworks!
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