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An abrupt transition to shield volcanic flooding took place in the mid-Miocene.

The flows can be divided into four major categories: The Steens Basalt, Grande Ronde Basalt, the Wanapum Basalt, and the Saddle Mountains Basalt.

The hot spot hypothesis is not universally accepted as it has not resolved several questions.

The Yellowstone hot spot volcanism track shows a large apparent bow in the hot-spot track that does not correspond to changes in plate motion if the northern CRBG floods are considered.

The ultimate cause of the volcanism is still up for debate, but the most widely accepted idea is that the mantle plume or upwelling (similar to that associated with present-day Hawaii) initiated the widespread and voluminous basaltic volcanism about 17 million years ago.

As hot mantle plume materials rise and reach lower pressures, the hot materials melt and interact with the materials in the upper mantle, creating magma.

Further, the Yellowstone images show necking of the plume at 650 km (400 mi) and 400 km (250 mi), which may correspond to phase changes or may reflect still-to-be-understood viscosity effects.



There is additional confirmation that Yellowstone is associated with a deep hot spot.The Columbia River Basalt Group flows exhibit essentially uniform chemical properties through the bulk of individual flows, suggesting rapid placement.



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