The Yellowstone volcano is located in the Yellowstone National Park, between the US states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.The caldera is labelled a supervolcano due to its capability to inflict disaster on a global scale should a supereruption occur. The last event of this kind has not happened for more than 630,000 years and any serious eruption in 70,000.
However, scientists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are constantly monitoring the volcano in case the situation changes.
Jacob Lowenstein, the leading scientist in charge of monitoring Yellowstone, revealed during a lecture how USGS know where the active magma chambers may be.
He explained how his colleagued used NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite to produce a heat map showing activity in the park overnight.
Dr Lowenstein said in 2014: “A satellite technique that we use looks at heat flow.
“Greg Vaughan works at USGS in Flagstaff and uses the ASTER satellite to specifically look at Yellowstone overnight when the sun’s rays are no longer heating the ground.
“He can look at the areas that are hot and those that are not so hot.
“So (looking at the map} some of the areas only have a little anomaly and some have a lot of watts per square.”
Dr Lowenstein went on to describe how one area had a particularly large heat anomaly below it, suggesting a large, growing magma chamber.
He added: “A lot of energy is coming out of the ground at the Sulfur Hills here, and other areas.
“So this is a technique we can use every 10 years or so to compare if things are changing within the park.
“We can also use some other satellite-based techniques as well.”
Dr Lowenstein also revealed during the same lecture the threat that earthquakes pose in the area.
He added: “The Denali earthquake occurred in 2002 and it was a magnitude 7.9 that occurred on the Denali Fault up in Alaska.
“Any time you have an earthquake, especially on a strike-slip fault, you’ll get surface waves produced.
“Those are the ones that do a lot of damage to buildings.
“And in the case of this particular earthquake, it sent big surface waves out in a southeasterly direction.
“When the ground shaking got to Yellowstone, it set off small earthquakes, magnitude ones, twos and threes, but they were felt.
“That is the phenomenon of triggered earthquakes.”