Caldera Chronicles

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

Subscribe

Filter Total Items: 196
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!

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!