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Yellowstone Helium Leaks: What Do They Mean?

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Ellisha Rader Mannering
Web pro News
February 22, 2014

Yellowstone National Park releases a variety of gases every day. These gases range from carbon dioxide to methane and according to scientists, helium. Although helium is a gas that is commonly leaked from volcanic rocks, scientists have discovered that the helium they have found is millions of years old and is just now being released from rocks that are deep below Yellowstone’s surface.

Scientists believe that the helium is slipping out of rocks that were formed during the Archaean eon, about 2.5 billion years ago. These rocks contain minerals and heavy elements that have slowly decayed over time and allowed helium to build up underneath the surface.

Bill Evans, a researcher with the USGS in Menlo Park, California, explained how the helium is released,

“Volcanoes most always form on the edges of tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust. But Yellowstone sits directly over the middle of a plate,” he said. “It’s a part of the crust that formed a very long time ago, billions of years ago, and it’s basically been stable since that time. They’ve had this boring, peaceful existence and now suddenly they’re put on the front burner.”

Full story here.

This article was posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:30 am

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