Yellowstone National Park inspires awe in travellers from around the world.
New Zealand and Iceland are known for geysers, but nowhere are there as many as in Yellowstone. At the heart of Yellowstone’s past, present, and future lies volcanism. About 2 million years ago, then 1.3 million years ago, and again 640 000 years ago, huge volcanic eruptions occurred here. The latest spewed out 240 cube miles of debris. The central part of what is now the park collapsed, forming a 30- by 45 mile caldera, or basin. The magmatic heat powering those eruptions still powers the park’s geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River gives a deeper view of these forces: its waterfalls highlight the boundaries of lava flows and thermal areas. Rugged mountains flank the park’s volcanic plateau, rewarding eye and spirit.
Artist’s painpot is a good place to let your mind absorb the smells, colors, and the sounds that surround you. Feel the heat of the sun, the cool of the breeze, and the steam from a hot pool. Let your imagination run free with the shapes and colors, as others have before you.
Among the first life forms to evolve on earth were microbes whose descendants now live in extreme high-temperature, sometimes acidic, habitats like those in and around hydrothermal features. The heat-loving microorganisms called thermophiles – “thermo” for heat, “phile” for lover—survive and thrive in Yellowstone’s active volcanic environment.