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Born of fire: In search of volcanoes in U.S. national parks, four striking examples

December 31, 2017

Geologic features, particularly volcanic features, have been protected by the National Park Service since its inception. Some volcanic areas were nationally protected even before the National Park Service was established. The first national park, Yellowstone National Park, is one of the most widely known geothermal and volcanic areas in the world. It contains the largest volcanic complex in North America and has experienced three eruptions which rate among the largest eruptions known to have occurred on Earth. Half of the twelve areas established as national parks before the 1916 Organic Act which created the National Park Service are centered on volcanic features. The National Park Service now manages lands that contain nearly every conceivable volcanic resource, with at least seventy-six managed lands that contain volcanoes or volcanic rocks. Given that so many lands managed by the National Park Service contain volcanoes and volcanic rocks, we cannot give an overview of the history of each one; rather we highlight four notable examples of parks that were established on account of their volcanic landscapes. These parks all helped to encourage the creation and success of the National Park Service by inspiring the imagination of the public. In addition to preserving and providing access to the nation's volcanic heritage, volcanic national parks are magnificent places to study and understand volcanoes and volcanic landscapes in general. Scientists from around the world study volcanic hazards, volcanic history, and the inner working of the Earth within U.S. national parks. Volcanic landscapes and associated biomes that have been relatively unchanged by human and economic activities provide unique natural laboratories for understanding how volcanoes work, how we might predict eruptions and hazards, and how these volcanoes affect surrounding watersheds, flora, fauna, atmosphere, and populated areas.

Publication Year 2017
Title Born of fire: In search of volcanoes in U.S. national parks, four striking examples
DOI 10.17704/1944-6178-36.2.197
Authors Laura Walkup, Thomas Casadevall, Vincent L. Santucci
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth Sciences History
Index ID 70204002
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center