Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Buffalos and Norris Geyser Basin
Yellowstone is the home to many buffalo and these big creatures roam all over. These weigh over 2,000 pounds and are very unpredictable. The park suggests that you stay clear of these fellows with good reason.
The Norris Geyser basin is located in the middle of the park and is one of the largest geothermal areas, aside from the Old Faithful area. There are all kinds of activity here and we enjoyed a walk of about 1.5 miles checking it out.
This steaming vent was very large and made a loud hissing noise. the steam plumes were very high, and likely exceeded 50 to 75'
Orinda enjoyed looking at the many scalding springs in the area that was other wise devoid of any vegetation. If you look at this spring runoff, you can see the very green color caused by the algae that loves hot water.
Sure enough, a bit further on we found this sign that described the different color algae and their temperature zone. The brown algae loves really hot water - 122 to 140 degrees! The green algae likes "cool" water by comparison and lives in 100 to 130 degree water. It was amazing to see water that would scald us actually providing a living environment for this algae.
The amazing thermal features in the Yellowstone area is the result of an active volcano. In fact, the entire Yellowstone basin is actually a crater of an old volcano that erupted over 600,000 years ago. The amount of rock, lava and ash that was blown out must have been huge as evidenced by these cliffs which were said to be made up of "TUFF" rock, which was super hot ash blown up by the volcano then settling back and welding itself back into solid rock. This is A LOT of ash!