Exploring the Yellowstone Geoecosystem
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Integrating Research and Education > Yellowstone > Key Topics > Surficial Geology
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Surficial Geology

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

Calcite Spring, Yellowstone.
Calcite Spring, Yellowstone. Details

Volcanism

Resources describing Yellowstone volcanism from a surficial geology perspective.
  • 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)
  • Geologic Map of the Island Park Area, Yellowstone Region. This website contains a geologic map of the Island Park, Idaho area. The map shows rocks, deposits, faults, calderas, flows, and other geologic features of interest. (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)
  • 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)
  • Neogene-Quaternary Tectonics and Volcanism of Southern Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Southeastern Idaho. This geology field trip guide focuses on the region south of the Snake River Plain between Pocatello, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming. The intent was to synthesize regional tectonic relations and present new information relative to the magmatic and structural history of the region. It contains a two-day itinerary, commentary by experts, maps, and satellite images. (more info)
  • Post-Glacial Inflation-Deflation Cycles, Tilting, and Faulting in the Yellowstone Caldera Based on Yellowstone Lake Shorelines. This U.S. Geological Survey Open-File report describes the vertical deformation of the northern Yellowstone Lake shoreline through time due to volcanic and/or tectonic processes. Multiple paleo-shorelines and hydrothermal explosions are dated using carbon isotopic and archeological methods. Numerous maps, LIDAR data, and graphs support the text. The report is a 62-page pdf file. (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)
  • Selected Products and References Related to the Yellowstone Volcanic System. This U.S. Geological Survey website provides links and references to scientific publications related to the Yellowstone Volcanic System. Products include online maps and reports. References include a bibliography of books, professional papers, bulletins, and articles, and a link to a database of research in Yellowstone Park. (more info)
  • 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)
  • The Yellowstone-Teton Epicenter. This University of Utah website provides an overview of the history and present conditions of the Yellowstone hotspot. Topics include the track of the hotspot, tectonics, seismicity, history and global significance of major events, and the physical properties of the modern volcanic system. Numerous maps, graphs, and other figures support the text. (more info)
  • Volcanic History of the Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field. This U.S. Geological Survey website gives an overview of Yellowstone volcanism. Text, numerous photos, tables, a map, and a volcanic term glossary explain the three major volcanic cycles that created the landscape that we call Yellowstone. (more info)
  • Volcano Hazards Fact Sheet: Yellowstone - Restless Volcanic Giant. This U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report summarizes the Yellowstone volcanic system and its associated hazards. Scientists are studying the Yellowstone region to assess the potential hazards from future earthquakes and eruptions and to provide warning of increased unrest. The report includes text, several maps, and data plots. Topics include Yellowstone's roots, the Yellowstone caldera, contemporary unrest, reasons to worry, and additional readings. (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 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)
  • 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 surficial geology in Yellowstone.
  • 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)
  • Exploration and Discovery in Yellowstone Lake: Results from High-resolution Sonar Imaging, Seismic Reflection Profiling, and Submersible Studies. This journal article presents discoveries from multi-beam sonar mapping and seismic reflection surveys of Yellowstone Lake. It provides new insight into the extent of post-collapse volcanism and active hydrothermal processes occurring in a large lake environment above a large magma chamber. The article contains extensive text, photos, maps, and diagrams to support findings. (more info)
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Recent Findings at Yellowstone Lake. This U.S. Geological Survey website answers the most commonly asked questions regarding reports that a bulge beneath Yellowstone Lake may represent a hazard for residents or visitors to the area. In addition, it provides a new high-resolution bathymetric relief map of Yellowstone Lake. References, and some direct links, to the original research materials are provided. (more info)
  • Volcano Hazards Fact Sheet: Yellowstone - Restless Volcanic Giant. This U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report summarizes the Yellowstone volcanic system and its associated hazards. Scientists are studying the Yellowstone region to assess the potential hazards from future earthquakes and eruptions and to provide warning of increased unrest. The report includes text, several maps, and data plots. Topics include Yellowstone's roots, the Yellowstone caldera, contemporary unrest, reasons to worry, and additional readings. (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)
  • 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)

Seismicity

Resources describing Yellowstone seismicity in a surficial geology context.
  • 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)
  • Yellowstone National Park Region Seismicity Maps. This University of Utah website provides numerous maps of the Yellowstone National Park area that show the location and magnitude of historical earthquakes. Time intervals include the previous day, week, 30-days, 90-days, year, 1973 to present, 1973-1981, and 1983 to present. The maps also include latitude and longitude, park boundary, and fault information. (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)

Maps

Maps of Yellowstone surficial geology.
  • 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)
  • Environmental Setting of the Yellowstone River Basin, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. This U.S. Geological Survey report describes the natural and anthropogenic factors believed to influence water quality in the Yellowstone River Basin. Topics include physiography, climate, geology, vegetation, surface water, stream ecology, groundwater, anthropogenic factors, integrated environmental settings, and others. Text is supported by numerous maps, graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables. (more info)
  • Exploration and Discovery in Yellowstone Lake: Results from High-resolution Sonar Imaging, Seismic Reflection Profiling, and Submersible Studies. This journal article presents discoveries from multi-beam sonar mapping and seismic reflection surveys of Yellowstone Lake. It provides new insight into the extent of post-collapse volcanism and active hydrothermal processes occurring in a large lake environment above a large magma chamber. The article contains extensive text, photos, maps, and diagrams to support findings. (more info)
  • Geologic Map of the Island Park Area, Yellowstone Region. This website contains a geologic map of the Island Park, Idaho area. The map shows rocks, deposits, faults, calderas, flows, and other geologic features of interest. (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)
  • Map and Data for Quaternary Faults and Folds in Wyoming. The primary objective of this U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report is to improve seismic-hazard assessments in regions of Wyoming with low to moderate levels of historic seismicity. A map and pamphlet are available for download in PDF format. The map shows faults and folds with evidence of Quaternary movement including data on timing of the most recent movement, sense of movement, slip rate, and continuity of surface expression. (more info)
  • TopoZone - Yellowstone National Park. This website contains U.S. Geological Survey digital topographic maps for Yellowstone National Park and the rest of the United States. Maps are available in numerous series, and may be viewed at various scales and in UTM, decimal degrees, degrees/minutes/seconds, and degree/decimal minutes coordinate formats. (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)
  • 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)

Thermal Features

Resources describing the surficial thermal features of Yellowstone.
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 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 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 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 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

Hydrology

Resources describing hydrologic aspects of Yellowstone.
  • Environmental Setting of the Yellowstone River Basin, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. This U.S. Geological Survey report describes the natural and anthropogenic factors believed to influence water quality in the Yellowstone River Basin. Topics include physiography, climate, geology, vegetation, surface water, stream ecology, groundwater, anthropogenic factors, integrated environmental settings, and others. Text is supported by numerous maps, graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables. (more info)
  • Provisional Real-time Stream-flow Data. This USGS website provides real-time and historical stream-flow data from the major rivers draining Yellowstone National Park. Data from thirteen gaging stations within and around the Park can be selected from a list or map. Data and graphs are available for gage height, stream discharge, and in some cases, temperature. Water quality sampling results and a link to EPA information on the watershed are also available for all stations. (more info)
  • The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Online Tour. This Yellowstone National Park website offers an online tour of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Prominent viewpoints of the canyon are highlighted with photos and information concerning their history. Other stops include information on giant glacial boulders and waterfalls. Similar tours of the Old Faithful area, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Fountain Paint Pots, and the Mammoth Hot Springs are also available online. (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 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 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 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)

Glaciers

Resources describing glaciers and glacial products in Yellowstone.
  • 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)
  • 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)

Yellowstone Surficial Geology

Resources pertaining to surficial geology in Yellowstone.
  • Greater Yellowstone Bibliography. The Greater Yellowstone Bibliography is a database with over 28,900 bibliographic citations to scholarly, popular, professional, and creative literature about the greater Yellowstone region. It includes citations for journal, magazine, and newspaper articles, as well as books, book chapters, conference papers, government documents, theses, maps, CDs, and other materials. Citations can be searched by author, subject keyword, and geographic location. (more info)
  • Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This U.S. Geological Survey website uses remotely sensed data to analyze landscape change in the Greater Yellowstone Area. It features maps and satellite images that show the geographical extent of the area, its management, land cover, and land use. (more info)
  • Scientific Research and Science in Yellowstone National Park. This is a web-searchable, bibliographic database of more than 10,000 citations to scientific journal articles, books, proceedings, abstracts, videos, dissertations and theses, raw data, reports, letters, and manuscripts dealing with Yellowstone National Park. Most citations have abstracts, many have additional notes, and all have subject headings assigned to facilitate searches. (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)
  • 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)

For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.

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