Yellowstone, Wyoming

October 16, 2015

Yellowstone is one of those places that I will never get tired of visiting and once again I followed my dreams while driving on Highway 14.

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Highway 14 crosses Bighorn National Forest. Created as a US Forest Reserve in 1897, it is one of the oldest government-protected forest lands in the U.S.

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One place that really called my attention was a geological formation better know as the Holy City.

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The Holy City

Resembling a sihouette of the ancient city of Jerusalem, these formations reveal the earth's history in records before human timekeeping. Created millions of years ago by volcanoes, these unique formations reveal a geologic era of chaos and fury.

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The Holy City

Once in Yellowstone, the first geysers started to show up on the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Lake.

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Yellowstone Lake

In the southwest area of the lake, the West Thumb geothermal area is easily accessible to visitors. Geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs are found both alongside and in the lake.

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As of 2004, the ground under the lake has started to rise significantly, indicating increased geological activity, and limited areas of the national park have been closed to the public.

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After the magma chamber under the Yellowstone area collapsed 640,000 years ago in its previous great eruption, it formed a large caldera that was later partially filled by subsequent lava flows.

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Part of this caldera is the 136 sq mi (350 km2) basin of Yellowstone Lake. The original lake was 200 ft (61 m) higher than the present-day lake.

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Next stop was at Upper Geyser Basin, home of the most famous geyser in the park, Old Faithful Geyser.

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Old Faithful

No time to see one of its famous eruptions. Over the years, the length of the interval has increased, which may be the result of earthquakes affecting subterranean water levels.

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The last stop was at Midway Geyser Basin. Midway Geyser Basin is much smaller than the other basins found alongside the Firehole River.

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Despite its small size, it contains two large features, the 200-by-300-foot (60 by 90 m) wide Excelsior Geyser which pours over 4,000 U.S. gallons (15,000 L; 3,300 imp gal) per minute into the Firehole River.

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Firehole River

The largest hot spring in Yellowstone, the 370-foot (110 m) wide and 121-foot (37 m) deep Grand Prismatic Spring is also found here.

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Excelsior Geyser

The number of thermal features in Yellowstone is estimated at 10,000. A study that was completed in 2011 found that a total of 1283 geysers have erupted in Yellowstone, 465 of which are active during an average year.

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Excelsior Geyser

The brown mat is home to colorful microorganisms called extremophiles.

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Extremophiles that live in hot springs are called "thermophiles" - heat-lovers.

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Partial View of Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most accessible places to study extreme environments and the organisms that inhabit them.

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Understanding lifeforms here provides clues for scientists searching for life elsewhere in the universe.

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Because conditions on other planets in our solar system are harsh, if life exists elsewhere it is probably as some form of microscopic extremophile.

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Turquoise Pool

Turquoise has no apparent overflow channel, instead water drains through seepage. There is an underground connection with Excelsior Geyser. When Excelsior was active, Turquoise lowered nearly ten feet and took nearly a year to recover.

Click here to watch a short video of the geysers

Map

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Driving distance from Vancouver:
1,487 km (924 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 15 hours