Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Looking for some of this………

Yellowstone Orange (9687)

As I sat reading the paper yesterday morning, occasionally looking out the window at a very frozen world here in Webster, NY (where life is barely worth living this time of year), I came across a small, interesting article about the Yellowstone caldera.  Yellowstone NP, as you probably know, sits on top of one of the world’s largest super volcanoes.  Not too far beneath the surface there’s a great deal of magma that some day will fuel a very large volcanic eruption.  Over the last 2 million years or so there have been 3 such eruptions in this area, the last occurring about 640,000 years ago.  What was interesting about the article, though, is that seismologists had apparently underestimated the size of this magma pool.  They now say that the caldera is about 55 miles long, 18 miles wide, and has a depth of 3 to 9 miles.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a whole lot of liquefied rock to me.  And if it did erupt, they’re now estimating that it would be about 2,000 times stronger than the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980.  Not a good thing for Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  Actually, not so good for any of us or any part of this planet.  We’d all be eating soot.

Anyway, it got me thinking about our recent visit to that sprawling park.  What sticks in my mind the most are the so-called geyser basins – those hissing, steaming, slightly smelly sources of heat.  Those places where bison and other large critters come to warm up from time to time, especially this time of year.  Even in September there was ample evidence that they’d been there during the night.  Nothing like a nice warm bed on a chilly night, I guess.

It’s just too bad that we can’t tap into that gigantic source of heat heat during the winter months.  Maybe pipe some of that steam around the country to thaw things out a little.  Hell, it was 4 below zero here yesterday morning (a new record low for the date).  With snow and a little bit of ice fog in some spots.  Even with a new camera to play with, who wants to go outside in that kind of weather?  Besides, the world is completely white anyway.  No oranges and no reds.  Just monotonous white.


2 Responses to “Looking for some of this………”

  1. Cedric Canard

    By “4 below zero” I hope you are talking Celsius though even if you are that is darn cold.

    The info on Yellowstone is interesting. I found this NP to be one of the most fascinating parks I’ve visited in the US. It’s not the prettiest but it can do your head in when you think about what it really is. I was under the impression that a massive eruption could no longer happen because the last one blew the volcano apart (thus creating what is left today) and without the funnelling effect of a volcano, any pressure build up would dissipate quickly thereby making an eruption a non event. I don’t remember where I read that or if I even understood it correctly (I know next to nothing about volcanoes).

    But I agree, it would be nice to find a way to tap into all the heat energy.

    The orange tones in your photo are beautiful by the way. And quite warming in their own right.

    • Paul Maxim

      Unfortunately it was -4 F. I think that’s something like -20 C? Anyway, it was pretty damn cold.

      Again, (unfortunately) an eruption is very possible at Yellowstone. No one knows when it will happen – could be thousands of years – but it’ll happen. There will probably be some warning in the form of earthquakes before it explodes. When it does happen, Australia will no doubt be a good place to be! As you say, it’s fascinating to walk around the place when you understand what lies beneath.

      I thought the photograph was interesting because it looks like lava. But it’s actually just minerals that create this color. The illusion is enhanced by all the steam rising up. Not to mention the smell………


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