Caldera Chronicles

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


Filter Total Items: 219
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!

Date published: February 22, 2021

What Did Yellowstone Look Like Before the Yellowstone Hot Spot?

We know Yellowstone today as the site of a huge caldera that erupted 631,000 years ago and covered the region in a thick layer of ash. But what was present before the caldera?

Date published: February 15, 2021

The other volcanic range in the Yellowstone region: The Absarokas!

Yellowstone Volcano receives ample attention for being a large, active, caldera-forming volcanic system. Given the massive eruptions over the last 2.1 million years, our focus on Yellowstone is understandable. However, hidden in its metaphorical shadow is another volcanic complex – the Absaroka Volcanoes.

Date published: February 8, 2021

An update to the Geology of Yellowstone Map

The interactive Geology of Yellowstone Map has been updated with new data. Check out recently added map layers that highlight Yellowstone’s monitoring instrumentation, hydrothermal features, and more!

Date published: February 1, 2021

Just how long has the Yellowstone Hotspot been around?

The Yellowstone hotspot—the source of heat that powers Yellowstone’s vast volcanic system—has long been thought to have initiated about 17 million years ago.  A growing volume of evidence, however, suggests that it has been around much longer.

Date published: January 25, 2021

Laboratory experiments help explain what happens when hot rocks, water and gas interact in Yellowstone’s hydrothermal system

Results from laboratory experiments have provided significant insights on many fundamental physical and chemical processes on Earth. They also add insights into the Yellowstone hydrothermal system that could not be obtained otherwise.

Date published: January 18, 2021

Where do acid-sulfate hot springs come from and why are they important?

Yellowstone hosts thousands of thermal features which have diverse chemistries and origins. The most iconic features, like Old Faithful, have neutral to alkaline pH. Some Yellowstone features, however, can be acidic enough to break down the very rock that hosts them!

Date published: January 11, 2021

Insights into the eruptions of Steamboat Geyser

The tallest active geyser in the world has been erupting at a record pace since March 2018. Why are eruptions so energetic, what influences the intervals between eruptions, and why did Steamboat reactivate in the first place?

Date published: January 4, 2021

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory year in review—what happened in 2020?

Although 2020 may not have been a great year for many of us, it was a pretty interesting year in Yellowstone.  With this first Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles article of the new year, let’s take the traditional look back at what happened in Yellowstone during the previous 12 months,