Chapman is the lead author of an article entitled “The Anatectic Belt of the North American Cordillera”. The research is the result of a special course taught by Chapman and Simone Runyon, assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at UW. Runyon, six UW graduate students and an undergraduate student who participated in the course, are co-authors.
Researchers in Wyoming have several hypotheses about what caused the rocks to melt. The first is that the water has seeped into the deep crust.
âThe geochemistry of these rocks indicates that the melting may have taken place at relatively low temperatures, below 800 degrees Celsius (1,472 degrees Fahrenheit),â said Jessie Shields, Ph.D. student at UW in Minneapolis, Minn. “It’s still very hot, but not hot enough to produce very large volumes of magma. Water lowers the melting point of rocks, like salt lowers the melting point of ice, and could increase the amount of magma. generated. “
By comparison, the magma produced by Mount Kilauea in Hawaii reaches a temperature of 1,830 to 2,200 degrees (1,000 to 1,200 degrees Celsius).
âThe water part is the most speculative and provocative part of this study,â Chapman said. “The idea is that this water was supplied from below rather than from the surface.”
Although originally identified in the 1980s, prior to recent UW research, the belt of rocks had rarely been seen as a whole, Chapman said.