The geyser cones of Yellowstone are made up of material called sinter — a form of silica precipitated from hot water. When looking at the sinter under a powerful microscope, strange forms are revealed that are related to some of the earliest life forms on Earth.
Yellowstone hot springs are renowned for their amazing colors, many of which are created by photosynthetic processes. The colors vary depending on water temperature and chemistry.
Drilling is often suggested as a means of preventing Yellowstone from erupting. It seems like a reasonable idea, but the volcano doesn’t work that way.
Volcanism in the Yellowstone region has generated a lot of ash over the last several million years. Rivers, including the ancestral Missouri River, have played an important role in distributing this ash across the landscape of southwestern Montana.
Yellowstone’s thermal waters are more than just hot — they also contain a variety of elements, some of which are potentially toxic.
Many of Yellowstone’s hot springs, geysers, mud pots and fumaroles look different depending on the season, year, or sometimes even the day one visits. Colloidal Pool, in Norris Geyser Basin, is an interesting example of a feature that changed over the course of summer 2021.
About 631,000 years ago, a massive eruption formed what today is known as the Yellowstone Caldera. New deposits, discovered within the caldera, are changing our perspective on how that event might have unfolded.
In Yellowstone, deformation of the ground surface can be measured to fractions of an inch. Specialized methods of processing GPS data make it possible to achieve this amazing resolution.
Grizzled old prospectors with picks, pans, sluice boxes and trusty mules need not apply.
Have you ever wanted to get your own visible and thermal infrared satellite images of Yellowstone? They are relatively easy to find and download, all for free.
In August 2021, YVO scientists collected sediment cores from the floor of Yellowstone Lake. Analysis of the sediment composition, as well as the fluids contained within the sediment, can provide new information about hydrothermal activity occurring out of view beneath the lake water.
Measuring the heat output of a hydrothermal area is not easy — but the floor of Yellowstone Lake provides a unique opportunity to assess heat flow in one of the most dynamic hydrothermal areas.
Selected hydrothermal features at Yellowstone National Park have data loggers that capture geyser eruption times. A systematic analysis of these data can reveal variations in geyser activity over time and between different geyser basins.
Locating earthquakes in Yellowstone is a time-intensive process that requires the trained eye and extensive experience of a human analyst. But advances in computer algorithms, known as “machine learning” tools, hold promise for automatically locating earthquakes that might otherwise be overlooked, and the dawn of a new age in seismology.
Much is known about how the chemical compositions of gases vary across the Yellowstone volcanic system, but how they vary in time has remained largely a mystery. Our understanding should greatly improve with a recent installation of a station that continuously monitors gases and communicates those data in real time.
Just south of Mammoth Hot Springs, near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, lies a jumble of white/gray rock known as the Hoodoos or, more formally, Silver Gate. The origin of this deposit is a quintessential tale of the dynamic nature of Yellowstone.
Ever wonder how seismologists determine the location of an earthquake in Yellowstone National Park? It’s an intricate process, but thanks to experienced scientists, thousands of earthquakes are located in the Yellowstone region every year.
The ground surface at Yellowstone National Park goes up and down. Since 2015 the caldera has been going down at a rate of about 2–3 centimeters — about 1 inch — per year, but during 2004 –2010 the caldera uplifted at a similar rate. What causes these ups and downs? Well, it’s complicated.
When it comes to data, Yellowstone National Park is a geophysicist’s dream. There is continuous activity from earthquakes, geysers, and of course, the volcano itself. A keen eye may be able to spot one of the park’s numerous GPS or seismometer stations hard at work, but some of the park’s data collectors are buried deep within the Earth, hidden from sight in boreholes.
The U.S. Geological Survey, issuing a "red alert" for the disaster, estimated fatalities could stretch into the thousands. Here's what's known so far.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park ask a lot of questions. So how do park rangers answer when they are asked, “Where is the volcano?”
The M7.3 Hebgen Lake earthquake in 1959 is one of the two largest recorded earthquakes in the entire Intermountain West of the United States. We might still be seeing aftershocks from that event in what today is the most seismically active area of the Yellowstone region.
We sometimes think of Yellowstone as an untouched landscape, but humans have been present in the area for over 10,000 years. The history and traditions of indigenous people in Yellowstone are as rich as the landscape itself.
Other large caldera systems exist all around the planet, and many are “restless” and have had geologically recent eruptions. Taupō, in New Zealand, is one such system and is a good analog for Yellowstone in many ways.
Early explorers during the separate Washburn, Hayden and Hague expeditions of the 1870s were astonished by the massive terraces and pools of hot-spring limestone, better known as travertine, at Mammoth Hot Springs — a chemical oddity that is quite different from other Yellowstone thermal areas.