Have you ever heard of the Yellowstone Supervolcano?

Micro-CT for Geology

Geological micro-CT
Figure 1. Micro-CT cross-section of Huckleberry Ridge tuff sample.
3D Micro-CT Image of Geological Sample
Micro-CT Volume rendering of Huckleberry Ridge tuff sample.

Remember in 2012 when the Yellowstone Supervolcano was supposed to erupt into a global catastrophe? Fortunately, the science of predicting eruptions has advanced greatly in the last 25 years, according to scientists at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. They estimate the probability of another major eruption as 1 in 730,000 or 0.00014%.

Roughly 2.1 million years ago, a huge eruption of the Island Park Caldera above the Yellowstone hotspot released 2,500 km3 of rock and ash over the entire Western United States.  This eruption, named the Huckleberry Ridge, was the earliest and largest of three giant eruptions known at Yellowstone and the third largest on Earth.

A digital thin section (Figure 1b) of the tuff created in DataViewer reveals the extremely porous rhyolitic matrix and conspicuous mineral crystals known as phenocrysts.  The heterogeneity within this geologic sample tells a great deal about provenance, and with micro-CT we are able to dissect and investigate the sample morphology in the same manner as with biological samples.

Sources

  1. Extreme Geohazards: Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience Report
  2. nps.gov (Geologic History of Yellowstone)

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