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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yellowstone: The Spewing Sulphur Pits of Gorgeousness

Who would have known geology could be so much fun. Today I had played the tourist and visited all the popular geyser areas. If some of my grade school classes had been as fun as it was today to explore and learn in the actual environment I would have learned a hell of a lot more.

061811_01CastleGeyser
CASTLE GEYSER

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With more than 75% of the world’s geysers in its boundaries as well as the world’s largest geyser Yellowstone is officially a geyser mecca. I began my day with a walk through the Old Faithful Geyser area. Since I had been staying at the Old Faithful Hotel I simply had to walk out the front door.

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WALKING PATH TO THE RIGHT

About a quarter way through the extensive pathways I was lucky enough to latch on to the back of a ranger led group and learned so much about how geysers work. She had mostly children surrounding her but I unabashedly listened in. This particular ranger was a fantastic speaker and made the hour tour super fun.

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CHINAMAN SPRING ALONG FIREHOLE RIVER

There are some gorgeous pools, geysers and mud volcanos here but I was most in love with the colors and textures. I have the bacteria to thank, in particular thermophile which thrives at high temperatures.

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HEART SPRING

The cool part is that different thermophile live in different temperatures and the zonation of microorganisms are usually colored due to the presence of their specific photosynthetic pigments. End result, gorgeous rainbows of color surround many of the pools.

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MORNING GLORY POOL

These pools ranging from 164 degrees Ferenheight to 201.2 degrees Ferenheight degrees. You would think with those temperatures that nothing lives here, other than the thermophile of course. Animal life in general cannot live beyond 113 degrees Ferenheight whole host of specialized animals actually thrive off the hot pools despite their temperatures.

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A DETAIL OF HOW CLEAR THIS WATER IS

Ephydrid Flies create a bubble of air around them that acts as insulation against the high temperatures, although they can’t stay long in the heat it gives them just long enough to grab something to eat. There are also certain spiders that eat the flies on the pools, the trick is that the spider has to move FAST... like a fire walker as long as the spider keeps moving quickly it can sustain a few moments on the pond surfaces. Who would have guessed life could live at 164 degrees Ferenheight plus!

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GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING, WHICH IS THE LARGEST SPRING IN THE WORLD, IS SURROUNDED BY MATS WHICH CREATE SWIRLING COLORS OF BACTERIA

And then I got to feel a springs heartbeat. The Doublet Pool will occasionally throb with the pressure from below. This throbbing is unique to this particular pool and happens on and off. In fact the ranger said that out of her 6 years of giving the geyser tour this was the first opportunity that she was able to have a group experience the phenomenon. The throbbing creates a pulsing of the hot water on the surface and creates a unique edge to this particular pool.

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DOUBLET POOL’S UNIQUE EDGE

Trying to get photographs of the geysers was incredibly difficult. The steam stinks, which isn’t pleasant, on top of that the steam gets in the way of clear photos screwing with my cameras sensors AND fogging up the glass of the lens.

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EXCELSIOR GEYSER CRATER

Every new pool or geyser had a unique look, a unique color, a cool detail that I wanted to catch and since I am shooting digital I took as many photos as I wanted. The problem is when I return home and I have WAY TO MANY photos to try and edit down.

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GEYSER RUNNOFF INTO THE FIREHOLE RIVER

Geyser day alone I took over 1200 photos.

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ARTIST PAINT POTS

061811_13arumGeyser
ARUM GEYSER

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THIS POOL SHOULD HAVE BEEN CALLED HEART POOL I THINK – AT LEAST IT LOOKED LIKE A HEART FROM THE ANGLE I SHOT IT AT

The actual geysers are amazing and can spout super hot water 250 feet into the air.

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THIS WATER IS HOT GET OUT OF THE WAY

Although the spouting is cool for some people I think I adore the after effects of the geysers more than the burst of water. By splatting, running, rotting and oozing these geysers create the most beautiful Pollock like art pieces. I really do enjoy Mother Nature’s versions of modern art.

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A WONDERFUL CLOSEUP OF WATER SPLATTERS

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WAVES OF HOT WATER CREATE VEIN LIKE TERRACES THAT STRETCH FOR HUNDREDS OF FEET

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RIVERS OF SLOWLY RUNNING WATER SMEAR COLOR AS IF IT WAS PAINTED ON

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BACTERIA OOZES ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUPER HOT WATER

The geysers and hot pools are not the only thermal activity in Yellowstone. Although the surface of Yellowstone Lake, the largest mountain lake in the United States, is cold enough to kill with hypothermia year round the lake bed far below is a hot haven. Don’t be fooled by the ice on this lake... the bottom is the hottest out of any of the thermal recordings in the park.

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YELLOWSTONE LAKE – THE SURFACE IS STILL A LITTLE FROZEN IN JUNE

2 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

It's a shame schools don't CAPTURE nature like we see on the road. I love learning about new things and this post was packed with PUNCH! THANKS/ Who knew you could be so scientific?? :) You'd make your high school biology AND geology teachers proud!! I know I am!

lilmansworld said...

I guess if we were homeschooled and had parents who were naturalists or tourists galore, we could have the education we always dreamed of! Its fun learning it on your own tho too....

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