A bison in the background amid steamy pool.
Yes that's right I have visited possibly the most touristy volcano in the world, Yellowstone. It is certainly an awe-inspiring place and not just for volcanological reasons! We came in via the southern entrance of the park passing through Jackson Hole and then just as you go past the "Welcome to Grand Teton National Park" welcome sign on the left springs up a stunning mountain range - funnily enough the Grand Tetons! The jagged and icy peaks are quite spectacular.
Continuing on you finally enter the park and there is a little stop called Lewis Lake (by Lewis Lake), which, using the park map, is just inside the Caldera Boundary. It is standing here that you get a sense of how large Yellowstone caldera is (purely because you can't see the whole thing!), something I have always known but haven't truly appreciated. Of course its also excellent to visit all the other well known spots; Old (not so) Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone Lake. In the most active spots the faint Sulphur/Hydrogen Sulphide smell was never far away, particularly at the Sulphur Cauldron, although I think Seltun in Iceland smelt slightly worse.
Left: Clear bubbling at Sulphur Cauldron and Right: The very acidic and yellow/green pond.
The Sulphur Cauldron is located in an area with high activity in the park and this area shows why - large amounts of Sulphur finding its way to the surface. Unfortunately it was tipping it down that afternoon so all my pictures look rather dull! It is fascinating to see a process occurring very rapidly, whereas the passive degassing I look at in magmatic systems will be significantly less vigorous (in most cases - the lava lake at Marum a clear exception). It would certainly be interesting to compare emission rates - I can never quite switch off!
I was promised wildlife and I certainly got it, herds of bison (if it is a herd!), plenty of elk, black bears (times 3) and a chipmunk! I could babble on but I probably shouldn't.
Next time, and I am sure there will be a next time, it would be good to go "off the beaten track" I am sure there are many wonderful parts of the park, such as I have discovered in the Lake District (UK), that can only be accessed on foot.
Note to self - must try and do future research in Yellowstone!
I stumbled across an interesting article on the BBC website -here. A group of researches in America are using the electrical conductivity of the mantle rocks to infer the position of the mantle plume. The research hasn't been published yet but it should be an interesting read, and when it is I will discuss this more.