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Geologic Map
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Generalized Geologic Map of the Conterminous United States
North America Shaded Relief


  The North American Tapestry of Time and Terrain

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Legend and Rock Ages
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  close-up map view of Yellowstone region
Satellite view of the Yellowstone Park Region

Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming currently lies above a source of magma called a hot spot or a plume. Over the last 16 million years, the North American Plate has moved westward over this plume, creating the Snake River Plain. The Yellowstone caldera (indicated by the red outline in the photograph) is a large crater-like feature covering more than 500 square km (1300 sq miles). It formed when an underground magma chamber collapsed 630,000 years ago. The giant volcanic depression that underlies the park formed about 100,000 to 5 million years ago. Many of Yellowstone's notable features, such as Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, are the result of the area's continuing volcanic activity. In fact, the largest volcanic system on the continent lies underneath Yellowstone Park.