A Unique Overview of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is unique in many ways. One that most people do not realize is its place in history. Yellowstone was the first national park ever established in the United States. The park was established on March 1, 1872.
Yellowstone is a fairly large national park. It covers 2.2 million acres. Although located primarily in Wyoming, the boundaries of the state also extend into Idaho and Montana. The name of the park derives from the Yellowstone River, and is a twist on the name French trappers gave the river. While rumor has it the name refers to yellow stones in the river basin, the truth is it refers to the yellow color in the bluffs abutting the river.
One of the stunning things about Yellowstone is its geological nature. It has always been noted as a place of significant geological activity. From daily earthquakes to the major Old Faithful Geyser, the park seems to constantly move to and fro. Only in the last 30 years have we really begun to understand what is going on in the park. It all started with the lakes.
Yellowstone is full of lakes and one in particular has drawn much attention. Yellowstone Lake has become a gathering point for geologist. The reason? It has been shifting to and fro for some time. In the early part of this decade, scientist realized the shoreline was moving substantially. When data was reviewed back to the early 1950s, they realized the shoreline had advanced and receded with regularity. What could be causing it?
After a couple of years of confusion, scientist discovered that vast amounts of the park were heaving and depressing in elevation. As the land rose and fell, the lakes would be moved. The only answer could be volcanic activity of some sort, but nobody could identify anything that looked like a traditional conical volcano in the park. The problem was eventually solved by satellite imagery, which revealed the park is actually a series of giant volcanoes!
Simply put, the volcanoes at Yellowstone are huge, extending as far as 60 miles in diameter. There consist of a series of “calderas” that form when a hot spot when a hot spot in the crust of the planet breaks through the ground. The explosions occur about once every 600,000 years. In fact, we are just at the end of another 600,000 year cycle, which makes people a bit nervous and movie producers happy to exploit the situation.
Yellowstone is an amazingly beautiful national park. A visit to the park should be on your list of things to do in your life. Just try to get there before it blows again! When it does, much of the Midwest and East Coast of the country will be devastated from the ash fallout.
John Grimes is with All Terrain - makers of natural products for the outdoors.