Page 3 – Yellowstone Geysers and Such

The basic mechanics of geysers and other displays put on by super heated underground water don’t sound very complicated.  A steady source of surface water, such as you might find in a mountainous area where large quantities of snow accumulate, percolates down into the ground where it meets rock and gas heated by the earth’s core, which then causes the water to reverse course and head back to the surface.

Cool water exiting from an underground spring looks somewhat similar wherever it occurs, though the setting may vary significantly.  Expectations that hot water from geothermal activity will also produce uniform or predictable results are quickly revised in Yellowstone.

USA - Wyoming - Yellowstone National Park  //  Geysers, Pools, and Fumaroles

USA - Wyoming - Yellowstone National Park // Geysers, Pools, and Fumaroles

Fumarole or Vent:  Escaping steam and/or gas with limited water content and no pool.

Geyser:  A vertical stream of hot water and steam, with or without a pool, which erupts until the pressure which created it is relieved.

Hot Spring, Pool, Caldron:  Free flowing hot water without the pressure buildup of a geyser.

Mudpot:  Microorganisms use hydrogen sulfide to create sulfuric acid which breaks down rock into clay.  Add water in limited quantities.

Travertine Terrace:  A consequence of hot water forcing its way through limestone, which leads to large amounts of carbonate reaching the surface, at which point the carbon dioxide is released (uh-oh) and travertine is left behind.

Factor in the different effects of hot water passing through material other than limestone, and add different microorganisms producing all sorts of colors; the range of expression of thermal features begins to rival the legendary uniqueness of snowflakes – no two are exactly alike.  Some placid looking pools are surrounded by barren ground, while others have vegetation growing right to the edge.  Some geysers build walls like a child’s sandcastle at the beach, while others build cones and domes or sit flush with the ground.

Human abstract artists have their work cut out for them competing with the natural processes of hot water, gas, minerals, and very hardy life forms in their very colorful and creative glory.

USA - Wyoming - Yellowstone National Park  //  Thermal Abstracts

USA - Wyoming - Yellowstone National Park // Thermal Abstracts

It doesn’t seem entirely fair that the more conventional natural wonders of Yellowstone need to compete with the rare beauty of the thermal areas, but it is time to move on, and there are many more sights to be seen in the world’s first national park.

Yellowstone National Park – Page 1

Page 2 – Old Faithful Inn and Geyser

Page 3 – You Are Here

Page 4 – Yellowstone Wildlife and Scenery

Page 5 – Travertine and Trees


1 comment to Page 3 – Yellowstone Geysers and Such

  • jeffreyevans

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