Initial Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Resources for the Yellowstone/Snake River Plain Hotspot

Topical Resources
Global isothermal surface in the Earth's mantle Details

Exploring the Yellowstone Geoecosystem: The Yellowstone collection contains an assortment of digital resources relevant to the many components of this system. This collection contains an abundance of maps, images, virtual field trips, datasets, technical papers and general information. Including a page that lays out some of the basic research for and against the idea that Yellowstone volcanism is caused by a deep-seated mantle plume. (more info) : Scholarly articles, opinion pieces, many related resources are available through this website on which interested parties discuss the nature and origin of hotspot volcanism.

Teaching Activities

Compositional Diversity in Volcanic Suites:In this exercise, students use whole-rock major- and trace-element compositions of volcanic rocks to explore the origins of compositional variation in igneous suites. Large datasets from the Yellowstone and Crater Lake calderas are downloaded from the GEOROC database, imported into Excel spreadsheets, and graphed to learn about the different petrogeneses of these two volcanic suites.

Hot spot volcanism in western North America: In this introductory level activity by James Trexler (University of Nevada, Reno), students use real data on age of volcanism and ash thickness distribution to better understand hot spot volcanic activity.


Mantle Convection and Plumes This collection of animations and images provides examples of the current state of knowledge and research into the nature of mantle convection and the origins of plumes.

Plate Tectonic Movements Visualizations: This collection provides access to a wide array of visualizations and supporting material that can be used effectively to teach students about plate tectonic movements.


In addition to the articles below, has an extensive listing of articles relevant to the debate over the origin of hotspots from 2005 to present.

Denasquo, K.R., R.B. Smith and A. R. Lowry, 2009, Density and lithospheric strength models of the Yellowstone-Snake River Plain volcanic system from gravity and heat flow data, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, 188, 108–127.

Farrell, J. M., R.B. Smith and S. Husen, 2009, Earthquake swarm identification and b-value mapping of the Yellowstone volcanic-tectonic system, J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, 188, 260–276

Hanan, B.B., J.W. Shervais & S.K. Vetter, Yellowstone plume–continental lithosphere interaction beneath the Snake River Plain, Geology, 36, 51-54, 2007.

Leeman, W.P. (2005). Magmatism of the Snake River Plain and Yellowstone Region: Implications for continental lithospheric evolution above a mantle plume. Presentation to the EarthScope in the Northern Rockies workshop.

Morgan, L.A., H. Cathey and K.L. Pierce (Eds) (2009). The Track of the Yellowstone Hotspot - What do Neotectonics, Climate Indicators, Volcanism, and Petrogenesis Reveal about Subsurface Processes? Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Volume 188, Issues 1-3, Pages 1-304.

Puskas C. M., R. B. Smith, 2009, Intraplate deformation and microplate tectonics of the Yellowstone hot spot and surrounding western U.S. interior, J. Geophys. Res., 114, B04410, doi:10.1029/2008JB005940.

Schutt, D.L. and K. Dueker, Temperature of the plume layer beneath the Yellowstone hotspot, Geology, 36, 623-626, 2008.

Smith, R.B., M. Jordan, B. Steinberger, C. Puskas, J. Farrell, G.P. Waite, S. Husen, W. Chang and R. O'Connell (2009), Geodynamics of the Yellowstone hotspot and mantle plume: Seismic and GPS imaging, kinematics, and mantle flow, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 188, 26–56

Taira, T., R. B. Smith and W. L. Chang (2010), Seismic evidence for dilatational deformation accompanying the 2004-2008 Yellowstone accelerated uplift episode, J. Geophys. Res., (in press).

Waite, G.P., R.B. Smith, and R.M. Allen (2006). Vp and Vs structure of the Yellowstone hot spot from teleseismic tomography: Evidence for an upper mantle plume . Journal of Geophysical Research vol . 111, B04303, doi: 10.1029/2005JB003867

White, B.J.P., R.B. Smith, S. Husen, J. Farrell and I. Wong (2009), Seismicity and earthquake hazard analysis of the Teton-Yellowstone region, Wyoming, , J. Vol. Geotherm. Res, 188, 277–296.