Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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Date published: August 2, 2021

Relics of past earthquakes: How the 1959 Hebgen Lake M7.3 earthquake may continue to influence Yellowstone seismicity today

The M7.3 Hebgen Lake earthquake in 1959 is one of the two the largest recorded earthquakes in the entire Intermountain West of the United States.  We might still be seeing aftershocks from that event in what today is the most seismically active area of the Yellowstone region.

Date published: July 26, 2021

“Land of the burning ground”: The history and traditions of Indigenous people in Yellowstone

We sometimes think of Yellowstone as an untouched landscape, but humans have been present in the area for over ten thousand years!  The history and traditions of Indigenous people in Yellowstone are as rich as the landscape itself.

Date published: July 19, 2021

Yellowstone’s sibling in the southern hemisphere: Taupō, New Zealand

Yellowstone is not the only large caldera system in the world.  Indeed, caldera systems can be found all over the planet!  In New Zealand, the Taupō caldera system shares many similarities with Yellowstone—a history of large eruptions, geysers and hot springs, and even earthquake swarms and ground deformation, some of which might be related to magmatic intrusions.

Date published: July 12, 2021

An outlier of Yellowstone's thermal areas: the travertine of Mammoth Hot Springs

Early explorers during the separate Washburn, Hayden, and Hague expeditions of the 1870s were astonished by the massive terraces and pools of hot-spring limestone, better known as travertine, at Mammoth Hot Springs—a chemical oddity that is quite different from other Yellowstone thermal areas.

Date published: July 5, 2021

Photo and Video Chronology – Kīlauea – July 2, 2021

Kīlauea's summit is no longer erupting; lava supply to the Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake has ceased and sulfur dioxide emissions have decreased to near pre-eruption background levels. HVO field crews—equipped with specialized safety gear—monitor for new changes from within the closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with NPS permission.

Date published: July 5, 2021

The long journey of water from Yellowstone’s hot springs and geysers to different oceans

Yellowstone’s hot spring waters ultimately flow for thousands of miles before entering the ocean. But waters enter two different oceans—the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Date published: June 28, 2021

The day that Porkchop Geyser exploded

Small hydrothermal explosions—steam blasts—are common at Yellowstone, occurring every year or two.  Most happen in the backcountry and are not observed by people.  In 1989, however, Porkchop Geyser blew up right in front of several observers on an otherwise sunny September afternoon.

Date published: June 21, 2021

What causes earthquake swarms at Yellowstone?

Earthquake swarms are common at Yellowstone, but why do they occur?  Are they driven by magma migration?  Water?  Steady creep along faults?  All three are possibilities, and tracking the style of the earthquakes can reveal the causes.

Date published: June 14, 2021

Yellowstone’s unconformity—over 60 million years of missing geologic history!

Visitors to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park might have noticed an odd geological feature near the top of Mount Everts—an unconformity! This juxtaposition of different rocks serves as a marker of missing history in the Yellowstone region.

Date published: June 7, 2021

Henry Wood Elliott and the first map of Yellowstone Lake

Henry Wood Elliott was a dedicated conservationist and explorer who, in 1871, helped create the first bathymetric map of Yellowstone Lake. Unlike many of his contemporaries, however, he declined to leave his name on any feature in Yellowstone. Geologists now honor Elliott’s legacy by referring to a very large explosion crater beneath Yellowstone Lake as Elliott’s Crater.

Date published: May 31, 2021

Yellowstone’s gravest threat to visitors (it’s not what you might think)

Yellowstone National Park is truly a wonder of nature, globally appreciated for its untamed beauty. Visited by millions each year, tourists travel from all over the world to witness its unique environment. However, while enjoying Wonderland, visitors should also keep safety in mind.