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: 156
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!

Date published: August 31, 2020

The story of a Yellowstone icon: Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the world, but who named the iconic feature?  And how does the current frequency of its eruptions compare to when it was first described?

Date published: August 24, 2020

From Observations to Insights—How Scientists Use Models to Study What’s Going on Under the Grizzlies’ Feet

Scientists of all disciplines talk about models—models of how a virus works, or the universe formed, or the structure of an atom.  Models can also help volcanologists understand what is happening beneath the ground!

Date published: August 17, 2020

Why do most geyser- and sinter-producing hot springs have alkaline (basic) pH?

It’s a common misconception that all geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone are acidic.  Some are, but the water that comes out of many of Yellowstone’s most iconic features, like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring, is actually basic.  But why

Date published: August 10, 2020

Tree rings record spikes in magmatic CO2 emissions at Yellowstone

Volcanologists have a variety of ways of measuring present-day gas emissions from volcanoes.  But what about gas emissions that happened in years past, before measurements were possible?  For these periods, it turns out that you can actually read the signature of gas emissions in tree rings!

Date published: August 3, 2020

The geology of a Yellowstone jewel: Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is a gorgeous expanse of grassland and meadows located right in the center of Yellowstone National Park.  It is a haven for wildlife and a popular spot for viewing some of Yellowstone’s most iconic animals.  But why does this meadow exist in the midst of what is otherwise a high-altitude forest of lodgepole pine trees?  The area’s geology holds the key

Date published: July 27, 2020

Photography and 3-dimensional data help to better understand Yellowstone National Park’s thermal features

Yellowstone’s thermal features, like geysers and mud pots, are delicate and dangerous. So how can scientists get a close-up view of these structures to monitor their changes through time? It turns out that photography holds the key. In fact, with a series of well-aimed and calibrated photos, it is possible to construct three-dimensional models of Yellowstone’s most famous geyser cones!

Date published: July 20, 2020

How old are Yellowstone's large geysers? We don't exactly know!

It seems like a simple question: how old is a geyser?  We know that all of Yellowstone’s current geysers formed after the last glaciers scoured the land surface about 15,000 years ago.  But what happened since that time?

Date published: July 13, 2020

What Goes into Operating the Yellowstone Seismic Network?

Have you ever wondered just what went in to going from ground shaking detected by a seismometer to a located earthquake available for viewing online?  In this week’s Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles, we trace the path from the ground in Yellowstone to your web browser!

Date published: July 6, 2020

What's the story, Morning Glory?

Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin is one of the truly unique places on Earth. It contains the world's highest concentration of geysers, including Old Faithful, and several remarkable hot springs. One the most famous is Morning Glory Pool, which is accessible at the end of an easy 1.5-mile trail from the Old Faithful Visitor Center. But years ago, you could drive a car right up to its edge.

Date published: June 29, 2020

Discovery of Ancient Super-eruptions Suggests the Yellowstone Hotspot May Be Waning

Explosive super eruptions are among the most extreme events to affect the Earth’s surface. Thankfully, humans have not experienced such an event in recorded history (the last massive volcanic explosion was 26,500 years ago). The only clues to help us better understand super eruptions and their impacts are hiding within the geological record—including along the track of the Yellowstone hotspot...