Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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Date published: May 12, 2021

Christina Neal to Lead USGS Volcano Science Center

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On May 9, 2021, Christina (Tina) Neal became the new director of the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Science Center, home of the Alaska, California, Cascades, Hawaiian and Yellowstone volcano observatories.  

Date published: May 10, 2021

A do-it-yourself guide for estimating the height of geyser eruptions

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientists investigate many aspects of the Yellowstone volcanic system, including the incredible geysers that are a highlight of any visit to the park. After witnessing a geyser eruption, many visitors begin to wonder about some aspects of these incredible phenomena.  One question --“how tall was that?” -- can be answered by anybody with a few simple tools.

Date published: May 3, 2021

The 2020 Yellowstone Volcano Observatory annual report is now available!

Interested in knowing more about Yellowstone geyser, seismic and deformation activity in 2020?  And the results of research conducted by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory?  Look no further—the 2020 Yellowstone Volcano Observatory annual report is now online!

Date published: April 26, 2021

The spectacular columns of Sheepeater Cliffs

A small side road on the highway between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction leads to Sheepeater Cliffs, a spectacular example of columnar jointing in a lava flow.

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!