Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wonderful Yellowstone National Park


And the Earth SMILED. 

There is just no way to describe the awesome energy that comes up out of the Earth in Yellowstone.

This huge mud pot spits thin, sloppy mud in spring.  In drier conditions, thick bubbles of mud and gas ooze through cracks, then burst and collapse, forming cone-shaped mounds. 


Mud Pots are thick and plastic and hold shapes longer.  Later, after several snowfalls or heavy rainfall, the mud thins and forms very different patterns. The mud seems alive, like a planet being born. 


This vat of bubbling mud contains the perfect mix of ingredients to create mud pots: heat, gases, water, volcanic rock, minerals, acid and even living microorganisms!

A Fumerole

These things are smelly and make noises as though the Earth is breathing....

And they seem to pop up everywhere.  In one parking area there was a large section roped off where a new fumerole was making its appearance.

Geysers can be seen for long distances....
They may sit still for a while...
Then suddenly explode with billows of steam and boiling water.

All of this action and energy give proof to the fact...
That the entire Yellowstone Park sits atop a live--and active--volcano.


The last volcanic eruption in the Yellowstone region came 630.000 years ago. 


  The powerful eruption ejected ash as far away as Nebraska and Texas, expelling magma from an underground chamber more than 30 miles in diameter. And it created a new ice age.

 As the roof of the chamber collapsed, a caldera or crater, was formed spanning nearly half of Yellowstone National Park.  

In time, massive lava flows filled the caldera and created the present landscape.

It seems that this volcano is one of only three Mega-volcanoes and this one has a history of erupting once every 600,000 years--and it is now 30,000 years overdue!

The last caldera formed is 30 miles wide and 45 miles long.

In the western U.S. a layer of hardened volcanic ash from the Yellowstone Volcano can be found that was deposited about 2 million years ago--a result of one of the largest volcanos in the world.  Geologists have discovered another sign of volcanic activity.  Two hills gradually rise and fall in elevation as molten rock and hydrothermal fluids move underground.

The rim is often hard to discern with 600.000 years of erosion, but occasionally it is clear.


Yellowstone has been designated a U.S.Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and is one of the largest national parks in the lower 48 states.  Within it boundaries are over 10,000 geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and steam vents--the earth's largest array of geothermal features.  (And I think I got a picture of all 10,000)


The first photographs and sketches revealed the beauty and mystery of the land and Congress was inspired to protect it.  It was placed under federal jurisdiction and on March 1, 1872 Congress created the world's first national park.

(to be continued)

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