Friday, September 24, 2010

The never ending Yellowstone - Mammoth Hot Springs

Although outside of the caldera, Mammoth Hot Springs is a direct result of the same catastrophic volcano 640,000 years ago.  The same magma chamber under the eruption site provides the heat for this area as well, a good 20 miles north! There are two differences here though:  The 'plumbing system' shape and form and the composition of the earth.  Regarding the plumbing system, here, instead of large 'pools' underground, we have cracks and fissures that allow the underground water to rise up and come out.  Regarding composition, limestone is the key component here as opposed to the rest of the park.  Why does that make a difference?  Well, the main component of limestone is calcium carbonate.  The acid in the water dissolves the calcium and at the surface hardens and becomes travertine. Yup, that same stuff that tiles bathrooms and floors and has a beautiful whitish creamy look to it!

The terraces (some large and some small) btw are formed by the water (of course), the general slope and any objects in the water's path. They say they are constantly changing, sometimes even over night!


Dried up terraces with no life.  At the moment anyway.  Looks like snow!


Terraces with life -

Still some life here, but you can start seeing the calcium deposits developing on the branches that fell in.  Soon, if this area dries up completely like it did above, the branches will be totally white and on their way to fossilization with the help of the calcium carbonate.


Hard to see, but Inventor found (he *always* finds things!) what we decided was a  human hair that fell in and soon became caked in calcium:


We looooove getting closer looks!



I think they were watching a poor insect that fell in.  Obviously he won't be long for this world...


After Mammoth, we headed south towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  Did you know there was one?  Well, now you do.  It is told that the first explorers out here didn't know it existed, obviously, and would have fallen right in if it weren't for their horses that stopped short.  They knew better.
Again, photo doesn't do it justice.

Standing above the lower falls of the canyon.  It was a steep hike down and up.  When you consider that we couldn't let go of Whirlwind for a second, it was slightly challenging....


Having fun with our food, apparently, at our evening picnic.


Whirlwind showing off his self made geyser, using sticks and branches -


Is there anything better than hanging out in an open field sketching?  Anything?


1 comment:

  1. i don't know what to say first - absolutely amazing! so much science (my daughter???!!!), so many opportunities to fall into the stuff (no railings???), so totally educational for my grandchildren - each with their own interests; love you all!!!!