Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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Filter Total Items: 219
Date published: April 19, 2021

The Queen’s Laundry—the oldest historic building in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is dotted with historic places.  But did you know that the oldest building that is still standing, built 140 years ago, was constructed because of a thermal spring? 

Date published: April 12, 2021

Yellowstone’s caldera, resurgent domes, and lava flows—volcanic giants hiding in plain sight

While geysers and hot springs are relatively easy to find in Yellowstone, what about the caldera, and the lava flows and the two massive resurgent domes that formed after the caldera erupted?  They’re there.  You just need to know where to look.

Date published: April 5, 2021

Yellowstone’s Cool Thermal Areas

Yes, some of Yellowstone’s thermal areas are cool—as in, no longer hot.  Cooling is part of the “life cycle” of a thermal area.  And just as it’s important to keep track of where thermal areas warm up, it’s also important to keep track of where they are cooling down.

Date published: March 29, 2021

Arid southwest landscapes dotted with the bright lights of a …. lava fountain!?

Volcanoes in Iceland, Italy, and Guatemala have put on displays that are captivating audiences worldwide. But did you know that the same sort of activity could also occur in the southwestern United States?

Date published: March 22, 2021

The complex plumbing systems of Steamboat Geyser and Cistern Spring

Steamboat Geyser has been wowing visitors to Yellowstone National Park since March 2018.  Seismic studies of the geyser and nearby Cistern Spring are now revealing details of the hydrothermal plumbing system that would not otherwise be known, possibly explaining why the geyser eruptions are the tallest in the world!

Date published: March 15, 2021

Preserving the legacy of geologic mapping in Yellowstone

Before the age of cheap computers, handheld GPS, and other innovations, geologic mapping was done with a compass, paper, and pencil.  An effort is underway to digitally preserve and publish these valuable geologic maps, some of which depict Yellowstone thermal areas at a very fine scale!

Date published: March 8, 2021

Geysers on Earth and in Space: How astrobiology studies in Yellowstone might teach us about life on other planets!

What does Yellowstone National Park have in common with outer space? More than you might think. A future tourist on a space cruise to the outer planets might smile in recognition at the sight of the famous geyser eruptions seen on moons such as Saturn’s Enceladus and Neptune’s Triton. But how similar are these geysers to those in Yellowstone?

Date published: March 1, 2021

Sanidine: Nature’s record of Yellowstone’s dynamic past

Geologists look for big things in small packages.  In Yellowstone, information about some of the biggest volcanic eruptions are hidden in the smallest crystals!

Date published: February 22, 2021

What Did Yellowstone Look Like Before the Yellowstone Hot Spot?

We know Yellowstone today as the site of a huge caldera that erupted 631,000 years ago and covered the region in a thick layer of ash. But what was present before the caldera?

Date published: February 15, 2021

The other volcanic range in the Yellowstone region: The Absarokas!

Yellowstone Volcano receives ample attention for being a large, active, caldera-forming volcanic system. Given the massive eruptions over the last 2.1 million years, our focus on Yellowstone is understandable. However, hidden in its metaphorical shadow is another volcanic complex – the Absaroka Volcanoes.

Date published: February 8, 2021

An update to the Geology of Yellowstone Map

The interactive Geology of Yellowstone Map has been updated with new data. Check out recently added map layers that highlight Yellowstone’s monitoring instrumentation, hydrothermal features, and more!

Date published: February 1, 2021

Just how long has the Yellowstone Hotspot been around?

The Yellowstone hotspot—the source of heat that powers Yellowstone’s vast volcanic system—has long been thought to have initiated about 17 million years ago.  A growing volume of evidence, however, suggests that it has been around much longer.