The United States National Park Service turned 100 in August! As part of the centennial celebration, the NPS launched their Find Your Park Campaign encouraging people of all ages to get outside and explore the Nation’s incredible National Parks.
Growing up, my park has always been Yellowstone. We are nearly annual July visitors, which probably has a lot to do with my love of Geology and hydrothermal sites. This past July, I had the pleasure of taking Chris on our extended family vacation to Island Park and seeing him explore Yellowstone for the first time.
My favorite place to visit is always the hot pots and geothermal pools. This year we stopped at the Norris Geyser Basin and I fell in love with hydrothermal features all over again.
The Norris Basin boasts some of the hottest hydrothermal features in Yellowstone with few features dipping below the boiling point of 199°F! The basin is also one of the most dynamic, changing frequently due to the movement of magma below the surface that heats the whole area.
One example of how changeable Norris Geyser Basin can be is Emerald Spring. While today Emerald Spring is pretty calm, in 1931 the pool acted like more of a geyser, having eruptions reaching 60 to 75 feet! Emerald Spring has also varied in color over the years. Its greenish hue is caused by fairly high concentrations of sulfur which reflects yellow light. Mix this with the blue light reflected by the water, and you get the emerald color the pool was named for!
As for another change, Emerald Spring was originally named Emerald Geyser until 1930. But what is the difference between a spring and geyser if they both erupt? In a geyser, there is usually an obstruction that keep the heated water and steam below ground until the pressure builds enough to blow through. As for a spring, the water can be just as hot, but the lack of obstruction means that the water can flow freely upward and pool at the surface. With enough disturbance, however, these springs can act as geysers typically do and sent jets of boiling water upward!
I call Yellowstone my park and hope to share it with my future family. What park(s) are special to you?
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