Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center

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A CAT Scan of Earth

Scientists use tomography, a method similar to a medical CAT scan, to map the magma chamber underlying Yellowstone. Tomography uses the energy waves of earthquakes, rather than x-rays.

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The energy from earthquakes travels through hard and molten rocks at different rates. When the earthquake waves hit hot, soft rock, they slow down. The opposite is true with cold, hard rock. Using this method, scientists have been able to “see” into the Earth and create a three-dimensional image of area’s underlying magma system.

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This work is supported by

National Science Foundation    Yellowstone Park Foundation
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