Yellowstone Geology

Published: June 7th 2019
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Old FaithfulOld FaithfulOld Faithful

The most famous and most photographed geyser in the world.
Yellowstone is situated on an active volcano! Three major eruptions have occurred in the last 2.1 million years, the most recent only 650,000 years ago. Magma only 3-8 miles down provides the heat for the thermal features in Yellowstone. The Upper Geyser Basin, home of old faithful, is one of 3 large geyser basins along the Firehole River. We were there on a sunny day and we treated to eruptions from 3 other geysers in addition to Old Faithful. Along the many miles of boardwalk we passed numerous hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles (steam vents).

At the north end of the park, the boiling water and steam travel to the surface through limestone, which dissolves to form a weak carbonic acid. When the hot water reaches the surface, calcium carbonate is deposited to form the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. This is the same process that formed the travertine pools in Pamukkale, Turkey.

The visitor center in Canyon Village has an excellent display of the geology of Yellowstone. The Yellowstone River Canyon has a thundering waterfall and multi colored canyon walls resulting from the still-continuing geothermal activity.

The crater left after the last eruption has been
Mud potMud potMud pot

Acidic water dissolves the rock to form a bubbling slurry.
infilled with lava flows. Across the canyon from Tower falls is a magnificent example of lava flow cooling slowly to form Basaltic columns.

During the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, the ice was over 4,000 ft thick. Moraines and erratics (boulders carried by the glaciers) are strewn around the landscape. Glaciers disappeared from Yellowstone thousands of years ago, the result of global warming that started 20,000 years ago. When the ice retreated, homo sapiens entered Yellowstone around 11,000 years ago and there is evidence of their early existence.

I hope you enjoy the small selection of photographs.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Morning GloryMorning Glory
Morning Glory

Fabulous colors in this hot spring

Heat loving micro organisms create a tapestry of color
Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

Travertine pools
Devil's thumbDevil's thumb
Devil's thumb

Cone surrounded by travertine pools
Canary SpringsCanary Springs
Canary Springs

Hot water cascading from pool to pool
Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

A pool in Canary springs
Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

Canary spring top pool overflowing
Basaltic columnsBasaltic columns
Basaltic columns

An excellent example of lava flow that cooled slowly to form these vertical columns. On top, glacier deposits.
An erraticAn erratic
An erratic

Boulders that were transported on ancient glaciers are strewn across the landscape
Grand Canyon of YellowsoneGrand Canyon of Yellowsone
Grand Canyon of Yellowsone

The canyon walls still have geothermal features
Yellowstone Canyon fallsYellowstone Canyon falls
Yellowstone Canyon falls

Hope you enjoyed our quick visit to Yellowstone national park

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