A volcanic hotspot of magma and molten rock lies below the surface of Yellowstone. It originates more than 100 miles below and has been shifting, eroding, and erupting for the past two million years. Yellowstone is only part of an 18 million acre ecosystem that includes the Grand Tetons, much of Wyoming, and parts of Idaho and Montana.
One of my favorite thrills was driving through the park very early in the morning when the air was still cool, because the contrasting warm steam vents were so visible…and they were everywhere.
Yesterday’s post focused on the geysers, and today we take a look at the other geothermal elements. There were steam vents, or fumaroles, as seen here. Another geothermal feature are the mudpots. They are a hot pool of mud, a sort of hot spring with not much water. Gases cause the mudpots to gurgle and bubble.
And then there are the hot springs, ah, so very beautiful. The photos here represent some of the more stunning geothermal pools and hot springs in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin. Whereas geysers have restrictions in their underground plumbing causing the dramatic eruptions, hot springs do not have restrictions.
Hot springs are super heated water features in which the water cools, sinks, and circulates without erupting. The colors you see surrounding the pool are called thermophiles, and are bacteria and other microbes that thrive in hot water.
With over 10,000 geothermal features in Yellowstone, you could spend a lifetime visiting this unique place. I also had the pleasure of visiting the northern side of the park in yet another geothermal area, called travertine terraces: Mammoth Hot Springs. I’ll tell you about that another time. Thanks for joining me!
Photo credit: Athena Alexander