Yellowstone National Park is a very exciting place, located in the
states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Yellowstone National park is placed upon
a volcanic hotspot, making the trip very adventurous and exciting. Although the
park itself is very interesting, the formation of the park is very eye-opening.
The Earth has 3 main layers; the
core, Mantle, and the crust. The Earth’s crust and upper mantle, or
lithosphere, is divided into many plates that we call plate tectonics.
Convection currents in the asthenosphere cause the plates to move. As plate
tectonics moved, it caused the molten material in the asthenosphere to make hot
spots. The asthenosphere is the upper portion of the mantle right below the
lithosphere. There is so much heat and pressure that rocks can flow through it
like liquid. The hot spots caused magma to be pushed up to the crust,
making an explosion of magma. This explosion was very big and caused a lot of
damage to the area around it. After the explosion, the dome made from the pressure
build-up caved in creating a caldera.
The first formation of these
calderas was about 2.1 million years ago. This was called the Huckleberry Ridge
Tuff and it is over 60 miles across. The second big eruption was about 1.3
million years ago. This was called Henry’s Fork Caldera. The most recent
eruption was about 640,000 years ago and created a caldera that is about 50
miles long and 35 miles wide. This eruption led to the formation of the Lava
Creek Tuff. This explosion was so big it left ash stretching all the way from
places such as Louisiana and California.
Yellowstone is widely known for its
thermal and hydrothermal systems. Water temperatures in Yellowstone can get as
hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit but can remain in liquid form due to all of the
pressure. This hot water dissolves silica which can coat geysers and help
protect them against pressure. Some of the geysers can become so hot that they
seem as though they are just steaming features meaning they cannot erupt
Another thing that happens a lot in
Yellowstone is earthquakes. Stress from volcanic activity and movements in the
crust cause energy to be released and make earthquakes. Some earthquake scan
causes the ground to crack open or be displaced. In Yellowstone, earthquakes
can be considered a good thing. To keep features such as geysers and hot
springs from getting covered with mineral deposit over time, there has to be
changes to the hydrothermal systems. Yellowstone usually experiences multiple
earthquakes in a short period of time. This is due to changing of pressure and
shifting of the Earth’s crust. The largest earthquake since the 1980’s was in
2014, where an earthquake of 4.8 magnitude occurred.
Considering Yellowstone has many
calderas there has been a lot of damage to the atmosphere due to volcanic
eruptions. When the volcanoes erupt, ash is thrown into the atmosphere creating
ash clouds that can alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere. People
and animals that live in the states that Yellowstone stretches from are
severely harmed by the toxic chemicals released into the air. The ash in the
air makes it very hard to breathe and can cause you to die. Plants are
smothered in ash and have no sunlight to survive due to the thick ash cloud.
Freshwater is polluted and cause animals to die from hunger and dehydration.
Luckily, there has not been any mass extinctions from Yellowstone, only
short-term deaths of plants and animals in the surrounding areas.
On March 1st,
1872, it was decided that the land needed to be preserved and protected,
causing President Ulysses S. Grant to sign into law that Yellowstone would be
open as a public park. This was the world’s first national park! Many people go
to the park to admire its size and geological features. Yellowstone is a
fascinating place with a very interesting backstory and can be enjoyed by small
children as well as adults