Yellowstone: Exploring a World of Geologic Wonders

Yellowstone is a miraculous geothermal area, full of mystery and wonder. Featuring boiling spouting geysers that release pressure from within the earth’s interior and gurgling, bubbling mud pots, visitors each year are awed by Yellowstone’s geologic sites. The hissing, steaming vents are easy to view and hear from significant distances, making picturesque photo opportunities. In fact, Yellowstone has more than 10,000 geothermal features, which is the highest concentration of thermal features in the entire country.

Scientists have explored why Yellowstone has such a high concentration of geothermal activity. Past eruptions of cataclysmic volcanoes over several thousands of years helped to create Yellowstone’s vaporous, steaming landscape that now defines Yellowstone’s characteristic features.

Yellowstone’s Caldera is fueled by molten rock, otherwise known as magma, which provides the park with the heat for the geyser basin. Most of the geyser basins that fuel this area include West Thumb, Lower, Upper, Norris and Midway. In fact, this area contains 200 to 250 active geysers.

Other ancient geological traces include the basaltic columns that are located near the Tower, which includes the steam that hisses from the Roaring Mountain. The Yellowstone Caldera that includes molten lava beneath the surface, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, albeit it an underground volcano. This area has created two resurgent domes, known as Sour Cream, which has formed the eastern edge of Hayden Valley, and Mallard Lake that overlooks Old Faithful from the Upper Geyser Basin area at the Observation Point. Firehole Canyon and Firehold River runs between two ancient lava flows. At the West Thumb Fork, which was created by a minor eruption at the Yellowstone Lake Bay that is lined with hydrothermal features, one of these geologic features is viewable.

The park’s forests feature valuable volcanic soils, which help to nourish the native lodgepole pine forests, as they provide valuable nutrient-rich soils.

Yellowstone sits on hot underground surfaces, which means that the landscape is ever changing. In fact, visitors report visiting Yellowstone several different times and each time is a new experience, with new geothermic activity and previous thermal areas drying up. A geyser that is active for a month, may suddenly go dormant the next month, while a previously quiet geyser can become quiet intense and active. This ever-changing landscape is what makes Yellowstone National Park such an appealing visitor attraction.

Instead of staying within the park, many visitors choose to stay outside the entrances to the park, helping to avoid crowds. Yellowstone Holiday offers Hebgen Lake lodging and Yellowstone RV campgrounds all on the comfortable shores of Hebgen Lake. Visitors can rest, relax and enjoy the scenic views of this beautiful resort area.



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