Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - Steam and Hot Mud

Fountain Paint Pot
There are so many geysers, thermal vents and steaming pools of mud within Yellowstone National Park that you don't have to go far to see the next one. The interesting thing is they are all different so you need plenty of time to enable stopping often and taking your time to walk around and gaze upon the many wonders.

Lower Geyser Basin

A mountain of hot mud

Along the Fountain Paint Pot Loop Walk

Beautiful walk around Biscuit Basin

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yellowstone National Park - Trolls 'n Hot Water

Lil Dude Troll checks out a pool of boiling water
The wonderland that is Yellowstone National Park contains within its borders the world's largest collection of hot springs, geysers and fumaroles. Almost 1/2 of all the geysers in the world are inside the park. 

Within these boiling waters, there is life. Microscopic organisms called thermophiles not only survive but thrive in this inhospitable environment.  Nourished by energy and chemicals in the hot springs, these microbes live in brilliantly-colored colonies. Some species are perfectly happy and healthy making their home in water so hot it would raise a blister on your skin and so acidic it is equivalent to the liquid in a car battery. Other organisms living in the hot springs are so tiny we can't see them, but we sure can smell them in the murky, sulfuric liquid pools that smell a lot like, but even worse than rotten eggs.

This pool of hot water looks shallow, but actually is about
6 feet deep. It appears shallow because the water is so clear. 
Some of these thermophiles are very similar to the very first forms of life capable of photosynthesis. These organisms, called cyanobacteria, are what created the atmosphere which would eventually support human life. Just think, the very first life on earth can still be found in Yellowstone National Park and without this very simple form of life, the earth would most likely be a very different place and you and I would not be here!

Streaker Troll takes in a fast flowing river fed by overflowing
pools of boiling water.