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Yellowstone FAQs - 26 Found

How is heat released in Yellowstone?

Earth's heat is released in Yellowstone by two main processes, conduction and convection:

1. Conduction is the movement of heat from hotter material to colder material. A common example of conduction is when heat from a stove is transferred through the bottom of a coffee pot to the liquid inside. Conduction in Yellowstone helps transfer heat from deep within Earth to shallower depths. Of the heat released from the ground at Yellowstone, about 25% is by conduction.

2. Convection is heat transported by hot material in motion, such as hot water or magma. Convection happens inside a coffee pot when heat is carried to the top of the liquid in the pot by hot water that rises buoyantly from the heated bottom because it is less dense than overlying cooler water. As the water boils, the rise of the hotter water and the compensating fall of cooler water from the top forms what is called a convection cell. Convection of molten rock helps carry heat up through the Yellowstone caldera. Near the surface, convection of hot ground water drives geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles. Convection accounts for roughly 75% of the heat released from the ground at Yellowstone.


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