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Geothermal Environments

This page was written by Denny Capps as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

Lion Geyser, Old Faithful Geyser Basin.
Lion Geyser, Old Faithful Geyser Basin. Details

Volcanism

Resources describing the relationship between volcanism and Yellowstone's geothermal environment.
  • Some Points of Volcanic Interest in Yellowstone National Park. This U.S. Geological Survey website highlights a few of the many interesting volcanic features related to the Yellowstone volcanic system. Highlighted features include the Obsidian Cliffs, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Sheepeater Cliffs, and the Mesa Falls ash-flow tuff. An oblique overview map of the Yellowstone area shows the location of these features in relation to other prominent locations around the park. (more info)
  • The Quaternary and Pliocene Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. This U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper is aimed at constructing a volcanic history of the Yellowstone Plateau region, interpreting important volcanic mechanisms, and seeking clues to deeper-seated processes that gave rise to the volcanic activity. Research for this paper spanned four decades and involved areal geologic mapping and the delineation of volcanic stratigraphy and significant structural relations. It includes text, maps, photographs, diagrams, and chemical analysis data. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming. This U.S. Geological Survey clearinghouse provides a diverse array of over 40 links to information on the Yellowstone volcanic system. The links are organized by category, including background and information; special items of interest; maps, graphics, and images; items of interest; useful links; educational outreach; and other menus of interest. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This source is a clearinghouse of scientific information about the Yellowstone volcanic system. Topics include recent seismic and thermal activity, volcanic history, references and maps, a photo gallery, and FAQs. This website contains both general information that would be useful for anyone that is seeking information on the Yellowstone volcanic system, as well as more specific resources for geology students or teachers. (more info)

Hazards

Resources describing hazards associated with geothermal environments.

Maps

Maps of Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Digital Atlas of the Greater Yellowstone Area. This online atlas provides a wide array of maps of the natural and socio-economic features of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and surrounding areas. The maps are made from GIS layers, and users can select from many types of information such as satellite imagery and topographic maps. Map areas include Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Gallatin County, and several other areas. A list of additional web resources with metadata is also provided. (more info)
  • Geologic Map of the Yellowstone Plateau Area. This geologic map shows rock formations, surficial deposits, faults, calderas, lava flows, and other geologic features of interest. A separate small map shows rhyolite flows. (more info)
  • Upper Cenozoic Geologic Map, Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field. This geologic map shows Tertiary and Quaternary rock formations, volcanic and surficial deposits, faults, contacts, and other geologic features in Yellowstone National Park. The map is freely downloadable as a PDF file. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Geologic System Database (GeoGIS). This website provides access to a broad collection of geographical, geological, and geophysical data for the Yellowstone/Snake River Plain volcanic system. Data types include physical geography, geology, geophysics, geodesy, regional models, and hazards. Information may be downloaded from lists of data, and links are provided to the original sources. (more info)
  • Yellowstone National Park GIS Data. This website provides links to GIS vector data and metadata for the geology, geography, biology, climate, infrastructure, and management of Yellowstone National Park. Note that these datasets must be viewed with ArcView. Additionally, it provides links to GIS raster metadata and an order form for a CD containing raster data. (more info)

Geobiology

Resources describing the geobiology of Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Geologic Overview of a Bison-Carcass Site at Norris Geyser Basin, March 2004. This Yellowstone National Park report describes the conditions that apparently caused the death of five bison near the Norris Geyser Basin. The bison appear to have died from hydrogen sulfide and/or carbon dioxide emitted from nearby gas vents. This PDF file contains text, data, and photographs that explain the Park scientist's findings. (more info)
  • Life at High Temperatures. This website gives an overview of the various forms of life that exist in Yellowstone National Park's thermal features. Seventeen topics can be browsed in order or selected from a menu. Topics include hidden biological resources, microbial mats, types... (more info)
  • Microbiology in Yellowstone National Park. This site describes how Yellowstone National Park is a focal point for cutting-edge microbiology research and how it provides a valuable setting for outreach education. Topics include questions for park officials, extremophiles... (more info)
  • Thermal Biology Institute. The goals of the Thermal Biology Institute's webpage are to present cutting-edge research focused on the biology of geothermal systems, to promote collaboration among researchers and resource agencies, and to advance public education on the biocomplexity of geothermal environments. Information is organized by topic including hot topics, research, current events, outreach, education, and electronic resources. (more info)
  • Wetland Resources of Yellowstone National Park. This Yellowstone National Park online report provides an overview of the park's wetlands and associated flora and fauna. Chapters include wetland plants, wetlands and wildlife, wetlands and people, thermal wetlands, a wetland inventory, wetland classification and acreage, and others. Information is presented as text, photos, graphs, tables, and maps. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Resources and Issues Guide - Astrobiology. This report explores the connection between geomicrobiology and astrobiology, explaining NASA's interest in the natural history of Yellowstone National Park. Multi-institution research teams are attempting to use Yellowstone's geothermal systems to understand how life began on Earth and how it could exist on other planetary bodies. Topics include the origin and evolution of life, and the current and future directions in the exploration for life elsewhere in the universe. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Science. Yellowstone Science is a quarterly publication devoted to Yellowstone National Park's natural and cultural resources. It features articles about research in the park, provides a colloquium for scientists, and offers an opportunity for the public to view this research. Articles can be searched by topic, author, or volume and may be downloaded in PDF format. (more info)

Changes in Geothermal Activity

Resources describing changes in Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Current Activity at the Yellowstone Volcanic System. This website provides a monthly summary of current geologic events that relate to the Yellowstone volcanic system. The summary includes information about earthquakes, hydrothermal activity, and other events of interest. Links are provided for more in-depth information. (more info)
  • Notable Changes in Thermal Activity at Norris Geyser Basin Provide Opportunity to Study Hydrothermal System. This website gives an overview of the changes in many hydrothermal features in the Norris geyser basin that began in July 2003. To monitor the increased hydrothermal activity, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory installed a temporary monitoring network of seismographs, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, and temperature data loggers. Text, photos, data, and references show their findings. This website would be useful for anyone with a basic knowledge in earth science that is interested in recent developments in Yellowstone's hydrothermal system. (more info)

Photographs

Photographs of Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Thermal Biology Institute. The goals of the Thermal Biology Institute's webpage are to present cutting-edge research focused on the biology of geothermal systems, to promote collaboration among researchers and resource agencies, and to advance public education on the biocomplexity of geothermal environments. Information is organized by topic including hot topics, research, current events, outreach, education, and electronic resources. (more info)
  • Yellowstone National Park Online Slide File. This Yellowstone National Park website contains thousands of photographs of the Park. Images are organized by category including fire, thermal features, mammals, park structures, petrified trees, water, weather, scenics, and more. The photographs may be freely downloaded and more are being added through time. (more info)
  • Yellowstone National Park: Historic 3-D Photographs Featuring Park Geology. This source provides a series of 34 historic photographs of well-known geologic landmarks in Yellowstone National Park. The photographs can be viewed individually or as part of a tour that begins at Old Faithful and proceeds in a clockwise route around the park. The images were created by digital manipulation of antique stereographs and they may be viewed as black and white photos or in 3-D using special stereographic glasses. (more info)

Tours

Virtual tours of Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Online Tour. This Yellowstone National Park website offers an online tour of the Mammoth Hot Springs. Prominent hot springs and terraces are highlighted with photos and information concerning their cycles of activity. Similar tours of the Old Faithful area, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Fountain Paint Pots, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone are also available online. (more info)
  • The Fountain Paint Pot Online Tour. This Yellowstone National Park website offers an online tour of the Fountain Paint Pots. Prominent geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs are highlighted with photos and information concerning their eruption patterns and relation to other geothermal features. Similar tours of the Old Faithful area, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are also available online. (more info)
  • The Norris Geyser Basin Online Tour. This Yellowstone National Park website offers an online tour of the Norris Geyser Basin. Prominent geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs are highlighted with photos and information concerning their eruption patterns and relation to other geothermal features. Similar tours of the Old Faithful area, the Fountain Paint Pots, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are also available online. (more info)
  • The Old Faithful Area Online Tour. This Yellowstone National Park website offers an online tour of the Old Faithful area, also known as the Upper Geyser Basin. Prominent geysers and hot springs are highlighted with photos and information concerning their eruption patterns and relationships with other geothermal features. Similar tours of the Norris Geyser Basin, the Fountain Paint Pots, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are also available online. (more info)
  • Yellowstone National Park Online Tours. This Yellowstone National Park website provides an array of online tours, videos, and other information. Nature and history tours are among those featured on the site. The nature tours cover the Old Faithful area, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Fountain Paint Pots, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Each of these tours highlights prominent natural features with photos and descriptions. (more info)

Yellowstone's Geothermal Environments

General resources describing Yellowstone's geothermal environments.
  • Hydrologic Monitoring at Yellowstone Caldera. Testing 1 2 3 (more info)
  • Nature and Science: Natural Features and Ecosystems. This Yellowstone National Park website gives a brief overview of how geologic characteristics form the foundation of the park's ecosystem. Yellowstone has a unique interplay between volcanic, hydrothermal, and glacial processes that exert control on the distribution of flora and fauna. Topics include summaries on geologic formations, glaciation, geothermal features, and volcanism. (more info)
  • Results Of Weekly Chemical And Isotopic Monitoring Of Selected Springs In Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park During June-September, 1995. This U.S. Geological Survey report summarizes research on a widespread hydrothermal disturbance that occurs annually in the Norris Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. The disturbance is characterized by simultaneous changes in the discharge characteristics of many springs. To characterize the disturbance, water samples from hot springs and geysers were collected each week and analyzed to determine whether chemical and isotopic changes also occurred in the thermal waters at the time of the disturbance. (more info)
  • Seismic Evidence for Fluid Migration Accompanying Subsidence of the Yellowstone Caldera. This report describes the largest earthquake swarm in Yellowstone National Park's recorded history. For a little over 3 months beginning in October 1985, the swarm contained more than 3000 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5. The swarm had unusual characteristics that could be explained by the migration of hydrothermal fluids. Maps and numerous graphs support the text. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Geology. This Yellowstone National Park website provides geological information about the Park. Links include geologic highlights, hydrothermal features, reports by park geologists, and scientists' talks (videos). A wide array of information can be found on these links and the webpage is expanding as more topics are added. (more info)
  • Yellowstone National Park Facts. This Yellowstone National Park website provides a fact sheet with a wide range of physical and cultural information. Key topics include general park facts, wildlife, flora, geology, Yellowstone Lake, cultural resources, visitation, facilities, roads, trails, and the latitude/longitude of several significant features. (more info)
  • Yellowstone Resources and Issues. This Yellowstone National Park online book is a compendium of concise information about the park's history, natural and cultural resources, issues, and major areas. Chapters, which are downloadable as PDF files, focus on the history of the park, the yellowstone ecosystem, geology, life in extreme heat (as in the hot springs), vegetation, fire in yellowstone, wildlife, and park issues. (more info)

Additional Literature

Additional useful literature about Yellowstone.
For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.

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