Friday, March 9, 2012

Wx is The Secret Rx in Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs, Obsidian Cliff and, Mary Bay a few of the unique geological formations created by weathering at Yellowstone National Park.
Shrugs going through chemical weathering at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Mammoth Hot Springs composes of the most extensive system of actively forming hot springs terraces within the park. These terraces are made up of travertine: dissolution of limestone (or calcium carbonate) deposits from thermal water. Limestone lives in the fault lines along Mammoth Hot Springs, which draw conclusions of how the network of hot springs formed over vast topography.

Dead Lodgepole Pines in Mammoth Springs by Wolfgang Wander

The precipitation of limestone propels the odor of rotten eggs. Photosynthetic bacteria actively breaking down the hydrogen sulfide in the water and creating Calcium Carbonate. The bacteria produce vibrate colors of yellows, oranges and browns as seen in the ionic images of Yellowstone's geothermal features. Prolific Calcium Carbonate is actually suffocating Lodgepole Pine Trees, found all around Mammoth Hot Springs.
The Southern view of Obsidian Cliff by Joseph Iddings 1888. 
Eleven miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs is Obsidian Cliff. The USGS Map of Geological Yellowstone indicates the unique rhyolite formations. Obsidian rock forms from rapidly cooling lava that has no crystallization, resulting in a dark volcanic glass. The photo above shows columnar joints, lava flow cooled and contracted as a single unit, in a rapid pace. The joints weaken the rock for erosion to occur. Add steep slope to form a talus slope of scree. Obsidian occurs naturally as small rocks, making Obsidian Cliff rare as its vast expansion of the volcanic glass. Archeological artifacts show many cultures used Obsidian for tools, such as Native Americans making arrowheads.
Enlarged map of the geological formations of Obsidian Cliff. The (Qpr) amaranth formation is the plateau and the pastel yellowstone (Qs) detrital deposits.

Hydrothermal explosion that consists of Mary Bay the northern part of Yellowstone Lake. A crater produced by pressure of the magma, an earthquake or a tsunami. All requiring a great amount of force and pressure. 

(A) Confined pressure (B) water Table drops, which fragments the overlying rock and propels it upward (C) explosion of mud, steam, and water until a drop in confining pressure and steam lessened (D) a crater remains and fills with water.

A soil profile of Mary Bay crater expresses a calcification process of either andisol or aridisol soil types. The profile clarifies two main explosions took place by the varying volcanic arc deposits. Mary Bay crater has an active vent discharging thermal water rich in clay minerals. 
Soil profile of Mary Bay, Yellowstone Lake (Click to enlarge)


1 comment:

  1. Wow! You have some very interesting information in this post! What strikes my interest is the fact that Yellowstone has such great potential for geothermal energy, yet it is such a precious national park that it is difficult for anyone to put geothermal sites into effect. I have posted a link at the bottom that describes some of the legal obligations and regulations of geothermal energy at Yellowstone, as well as an example of a well that was drilled 140 meters deep fairly close to Mammoth Hot Springs in 1986. The project was eventually shut down because of how it impacted the flow of the hot springs. On another note, I think its fascinating that there is an entire cliff of obsidian! Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Yellowstone last erupt thousands of years ago? It is amazing how the obsidian is still kept in tact, and how our ancestors used it as a resource for survival. Keep up the good work!

    Brittney Ferrari