Geysers, Fumaroles, Mudpots, and More
Yellowstone National Park is a gem with a stunning collection of geology, geothermal features, and abundant wildlife including bison, elk, bears, and wolves. Yellowstone is America’s first national park with one of the largest array’s of geysers, mud pots, and fumaroles in the world.
The brilliant colors and activity displayed in so many of the geologic areas are jaw-dropping, which are the result of an underground magma body holding an incredible amount of heat. Precipitation makes its way through layers of permeable rock, which interacts with hot brine heated by the magma. Although heated above boiling, the water becomes superheated.
Temperatures differences between the water in the system and the superheated water creates currents and movement, which eventually dissolves silica in the rock into rhyolite. The silica can also precipitate out, which creates the glorious edges and layers of the hot springs and mud pots in the park.
Other areas of exploration in the park include Mammoth Hot Springs and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Mammoth Hot Springs has beautiful rainbow terraces that cascade all the way down the hillside. The Canyon is a result of erosion rather than glaciation, but is not yet well understood. The colors in the canyon walls are due to different distinct chemical make-ups of iron compounds, and exposure to weather and the elements has changed the compound colors.
As it is so often called, Yellowstone is a ‘Wonderland’ and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Maybe in the shoulder season when the park is less populated 🙂