Caldera Chronicles

Caldera Chronicles is a weekly article written by U.S. Geological Survey Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientists and colleagues.

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Filter Total Items: 166
Date published: November 23, 2020

Autonomous sensors reveal surprises about the dynamic and shifting floor of Yellowstone Lake

We know from decades of observation that Yellowstone’s geyser basins are always changing, but what about thermal activity beneath the waters of Yellowstone Lake?  A team from the University of Minnesota deployed sensors on the lake floor and found that the environment is no less dynamic.

Date published: November 16, 2020

How Big Was That Earthquake?

Earthquake magnitudes may seem straightforward, but a lot goes into their calculation, and multiple methods can be used.  These methods must account for many complications, like the impacts of local geology on the amplitude of shaking.  In Yellowstone, a modern seismic network and experienced analysts make it possible to determine the magnitudes of even the smallest earthquakes!

Date published: November 9, 2020

How long does a big Yellowstone explosive eruption last?

Of the three enormous explosive eruptions from Yellowstone in the past 2.1 million years, the earliest and largest was the one that gave rise to the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff. The generalized perception of these colossal eruptions is that they are short-lived events lasting hours or days, but recent field observations indicate a more complicated story.

Date published: November 2, 2020

Capturing Yellowstone’s elusive gases

If you’ve been to Yellowstone, you’ve no doubt smelled some of the gases that come from depth and escape to the surface.  In addition to their noses, geochemists use sophisticated tools to sample these gases, and they use the result to better understand how Yellowstone works!

Date published: October 26, 2020

Going for a swim…at Old Faithful???

A swimming pool?  At Old Faithful?  Sounds crazy, but for nearly 40 years in the first half of the 20th century there was a geyser-heated bathhouse right next to the most iconic geyser in the world!

Date published: October 19, 2020

Yellowstone's tool-making lava flows

Yellowstone has a lot to offer visitors, from its world-famous hydrothermal features to its vast array of wildlife and breath-taking scenery. Yellowstone has also provided humans with another important resource for the last 11,000 years or more—obsidian.

Date published: October 12, 2020

A time when Old Faithful wasn’t so faithful

Old Faithful Geyser got its unique name in the 19th century because its eruptions were so regular and predictable. But during parts of the 13th and 14th centuries, the geyser did not erupt at all.

Date published: October 5, 2020

Modernizing geodetic infrastructure at YNP: The best data for the best science

Fall is a time for maintaining monitoring sites in Yellowstone, since they will not be accessible during the winter months.  That includes the continuous GPS stations that track deformation across Yellowstone National Park!

Date published: September 28, 2020

Studying Yellowstone’s volcanic system at the microscopic scale

Some of the most valuable data used to understand the evolution of the Yellowstone volcano come from the microscopic world. What are some of the tools that researchers use to study the microscopic products of the volcano’s multiple eruptions?

Date published: September 21, 2020

Thousands of years of caldera inflation and deflation recorded in the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake

Thanks to technology like GPS (Global Positioning System), scientists know that the ground at Yellowstone moves up and down at a rate of a few centimeters—about an inch—per year. But what was happening to the caldera before scientists had the ability to make these measurements?  Yellowstone Lake holds the key, with a record of deformation that extends back thousands of years!

Date published: September 14, 2020

What can Yellowstone’s warm lakes tell us about thermal features?

Yellowstone’s most famous thermal areas, like Norris Geyser Basin, are located on land, but a surprising number of thermal areas are also present beneath the region’s lakes. Thermal satellite data can help to identify and characterize these hidden sources of heat!

Date published: September 7, 2020

Pushing the boundaries: Montana State University updates Yellowstone’s geologic map

What better way to celebrate the upcoming 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park than with an updated geologic map? Scientists and students from Montana State University are spending this summer doing just that!