GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

All posts tagged caldera

Yellowstone geology map

Geological Setting of Yellowstone National Park (click for larger version)

Recently we heard from someone who found our article on Beartooth Butte confusing, so I revised that “Nugget” to be clearer. We describe a geological feature you can see if you drive outside the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park toward Red Lodge, Montana. The part we had to clear up is that Beartooth Butte is in Wyoming, but the Beartooth Range is almost wholly in Montana. The butte sits above a lake with the same name, about 20 miles on US Highway 212 from the state line.

Did you know that geologist Jo-Ann Sherwin and I spent a lot of time updating the geology in the latest edition of Yellowstone Treasures? This map we revised is the most technical one, not intended for navigation like most of the 38 maps in the guidebook! Besides the types of rock in the different mountains, the map shows calderas. (A caldera is a large circular or elliptical crater or depression formed by the collapse of a large land area after the emptying of a magma chamber in a massive volcanic explosion.) Notice how the most recent—and famous—Yellowstone Caldera is marked with a solid line because much of its edge is visible at the surface. Meanwhile, the Henrys Fork and Huckleberry Ridge Calderas have a dashed outline to show that the caldera edge is buried under more recent volcanics. East of the park, the dotted outlines of the Heart Mountain detachment and its remnants show their general size, shape, and location. These are large chunks of Paleozoic sedimentary rock that became detached from the underlying rock and slid to the southeast over the Bighorn Basin. There’s lots more to explain calderas and other geological formations in the guidebook’s Geological History chapter.

We welcome your feedback on either our books or this website. Contact us!
—Editor Beth Chapple

Map credit: Jo-Ann Sherwin adapted this map with permission from Mountain Press’s Roadside Geology of Wyoming, 2nd ed., 1991, by David R. Lageson and Darwin R. Spearing.

Elsewhere on this website you can read about “The Yellowstone Caldera” and the Heart Mountain Interpretive center: https://www.yellowstonetreasures.com/2013/07/14/trip-report-heart-mountain/.

Janet celebrates her 75th anniversary in the park, part 5

Categories: Bio, Geysers
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Continuing from “Janet celebrates her 75th anniversary in the park, part 4” . . .

In this last installment of this series of her park memoirs, Janet focuses on her geyser memories. If you are just tuning in now, you might want to start with her first post in the series.

Geysers

Old Faithful 2013

Old Faithful Geyser from Observation Point (2013)

The bunkhouse room we slept in faced Old Faithful Geyser. Of course, we watched it often, but we rarely went close. I do not know whether other predictable geyser eruptions were posted in those days, and we never went to wait for Grand or Riverside. I see from George Marler’s Inventory of Thermal Features of the Firehole River Geyser Basins (Geyser Observation and Study Association, 1994) that Grand’s average eruption interval was something like 38 hours in those years.

Two geysers we did see quite often when I got to live at Old Faithful were Great Fountain and Lone Star, both accessible by road in those days. We would take a lunch and a book or our game of Parcheesi and Mother would drive us out north or south to wait for these geysers to erupt. It seems to me we would often have them to ourselves.

The most thrilling geyser-viewing experience I can remember was being roused in the night to drive over to see Giant erupt. Daddy took me on his shoulders so I could see over the crowd. Somehow, the group excitement made more of an impression on me than the actual eruption! According to the Marler Inventory, the first half of the 1940s was a relatively quiet time for Giant, so I was privileged to be there at an eruption. And the next time I got to see one was on July 3, 2006—again with a lot of excited viewers.

Besides going to Lone Star or Great Fountain geysers, we often visited Biscuit or Midway geyser basins. I remember that the surrounding “biscuits” at Sapphire Pool were outstanding; they were destroyed when the pool erupted after the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake.

I now realize how extrememly fortunate I was to spend so much time during formative years in the magic environment of Yellowstone. It is ironic that one of the most potentially dangerous places in the world—the Yellowstone Caldera—is also, if one takes sensible precautions, one of the safest.

Our months in the park were some of the most benign and happy of my life. No doubt this is why in my later years I have been thoroughly engrossed in learning and writing about the park I love.

by Janet Chapple

ON THIS WEBSITE: Find the whole series about Janet’s experiences from 1939 to 1942 at “Janet Celebrates her 75th Anniversary in the Park.” Also be sure to see the nugget called “Wonderful Geysers Not to Miss,” and there is a lot more information about geysers elsewhere on the site and, of course, in the guidebook.


The full article “Celebrating an Old Faithful Area Seventieth Anniversary,” was published in August 2009 in the Geyser Gazer Sput, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 5-8.
Janet wrote a longer version of these memoirs at the instigation of Park Historian Lee Whittlesey, and they are now preserved in the library of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, Montana.

What to see and do near Canyon Village

Categories: Trip planning
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Yellowstone Canyon from Inspiration Point

Canyon colors from Inspiration Point

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone? Here are some tips about what you can visit when you are in the right middle section of the figure 8 known as the Grand Loop Road. (See the main map to orient yourself.)

  • At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, marvel at the world’s most spectacular combination of rainbow-colored canyon walls and breathtaking waterfalls.
  • For an unusual and uncrowded view into the Yellowstone River canyon across the river from the busy Tower Fall area, take the Specimen Ridge Trail from the Yellowstone River picnic area. You can see Calcite Springs and sometimes spy osprey or peregrine falcon nests in the canyon.
  • Horses are available at Canyon, Mammoth, and Tower-Roosevelt Junctions, for hire from the park concessionaire.
  • Opened at the end of August 2006, the beautifully upgraded Canyon Visitor Center displays the volcanic source of Yellowstone’s wonders in ways that all can understand. Exhibits about the caldera eruptions, subsequent lava flows, glacial effects, and earthquakes bring you up to date on scientific knowledge about the park’s geology. Don’t miss it when you visit the Canyon area!

There’s more about what to see and do at and in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone Treasures, fourth edition, pages 179-188. Here is the Canyon Area: Village and Falls map from that section of the guidebook.

–Editor and webmaster, Beth Chapple

Special alert!

Categories: News, Science
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[Editorial update on December 10, 2020: If you missed this talk in 2014 and still want to watch it, it’s on the USGS lecture page (http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/2014/jan14.html). Jake began with some amusing history but quickly got into the technical details about volcanism and the Yellowstone Caldera. Enjoy!]

Here’s our chance to listen to one of the foremost authorities on what’s under Yellowstone explain what is known about the volcano.

Jake Lowenstern, U.S. Geological Survey scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, will talk tomorrow evening, January 23rd, at 7 pm PST about the latest understanding of earthquakes, uplifting ground, and steam explosions in Yellowstone’s caldera.

He will also talk about the amazing geological history of Yellowstone National Park and how scientists are monitoring the area in order some day to be able to forecast eruptions.

Tune in to: online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/live.html