Super-eruptions are amongst the most extreme events to affect Earth’s surface, but too few examples are known to assess their global role in crustal processes and environmental impact. We demonstrate a robust approach to recognize them at one of the best-preserved intraplate large igneous provinces, leading to the discovery of two new super-eruptions. Each generated huge and unusually hot pyroclastic density currents that sterilized extensive tracts of Idaho and Nevada in the United States. The ca. 8.99 Ma McMullen Creek eruption was magnitude 8.6, larger than the last two major eruptions at Yellowstone (Wyoming). Its volume exceeds 1700 km3, covering ≥12,000 km2. The ca. 8.72 Ma Grey’s Landing eruption was even larger, at magnitude of 8.8 and volume of ≥2800 km3. It covers ≥23,000 km2 and is the largest and hottest documented eruption from the Yellowstone hotspot. The discoveries show the effectiveness of distinguishing and tracing vast deposit sheets by combining trace-element chemistry and mineral compositions with field and paleomagnetic characterization. This approach should lead to more discoveries and size estimates, here and at other provinces. It has increased the number of known super-eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot, shows that the temporal framework of the magmatic province needs revision, and suggests that the hotspot may be waning.
Discovery of two new super-eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot track (USA): Is the Yellowstone hotspot waning?
- PDF LinkPDF
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Thomas R. Knott, Michael J. Branney, Marc K. Reichow, David R. Finn, Simon Tapster, Robert S. Coe; Discovery of two new super-eruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot track (USA): Is the Yellowstone hotspot waning?. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G47384.1
Download citation file: