Yellowstone National Park

People have spent time in the Yellowstone region for more than 11,000 years. Many tribes and bands used the park as their home, hunting grounds, and transportation routes prior to and after the European-American arrival. Yellowstone was established as the world’s first national park in 1872. The first American to explore the area was John Colter, a veteran of the Lewis & Clark expedition. After years in the wilderness, Colter began to tell others of the area’s incredible geothermic activity. Few believed these fantastic stories and mocked the region, calling it Colter’s Hell. The picture is below right.

The park preserves more than 10,000 hydrothermal features—an extraordinary collection of hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, travertine terraces, and geysers. Microorganisms called thermophiles — meaning “heat loving” — live in these features and give the park its brilliant colors. Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin is at top right below mountains.

The first major eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera volcano occurred a million years ago and covered more than 5,790 square miles with ash. That marks Yellowstone as a supervolcano–a term used to describe any volcano with an eruption of more than 240 cubic miles of magma) While the volcano is still active, it’s been more than 640,000 years since the last lava flow. With the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Utah, the National Park Service established the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory in 2001 to monitor volcanic and seismic activity in the area. The picture is below the mountains—top right.

Grade: A

REFERENCE: Google Earth

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