Chameleon features

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 13:37:16 07/20/14

In Reply to: Day 6 continued posted by Rick


Your observation is accurate, if one were to consider total acreage being flooded or having thermal flow coursing over a given area. The net effect is a rather anti-chamber of commerce thermal "desert" look. The bulk of the flow is concentrated in the two areas you identified.

Up on the Upper Terrace, we have seen more diversity in recent years, but still less than a few decades ago.

At the same time, the flow down by Boiling River seems to persist at historic levels. I have a theory. I think we have more thermal flow concentrated in fewer areas. Also, in some areas, the flow doesn't spread laterally as much as it did historically. Of course, when many vents were open on the flat expanse of Main Terrace, there was nowhere to go but horizontally across the broad flat expanse, creating pools. Also, for whatever reason, certain features were functioning almost like huge wedding cakes, with a vent at the top, in the "old days". That produced thermal flow almost 360 degrees around a vent. Minerva Terrace in the 1970s and 1980s would be a good ewxample. Naturally, that resulted in a large area inundated, and consequent algae beds and bacteria mats with lots of color. I am fairly familiar with the activity at and around Canary Springs over the past 15 years. Canary's vent has moved all over the place, and quite often, it has flowed very vigorously. The only picturesque terrace/terracette formation has been where gravity takes over on the rim of Main Terrace.

If one wanted to contemplate the consequences of a major shift in hydrothermal activity, thinking about the ultimate influence of the long term migration of subsurface thermal fluids from down near the Mallard Lake resurgent dome (Upper Geyser Basin vicinity) north/northeast toward Madison Junction, produces the specter of new features popping up north of Fountain Flat, maybe even north of Purple Mountain. The migration I am alluding to is that which Bob Smith and other geophysicists have been detecting and reporting for many years. Who knows if that "stuff" will ever vent to the surface, and if so, where.

The chaotic influences of the 1959 earthquake on thermal features demonstrate what can happen if you apply enough external pressure to the thermal fields of Yellowstone. If we get an even bigger quake one of these days, we might have a new thermal area almost anywhere. Depending on ease of accessibility and spectacularness of the new features, you may or may not see a new developed area and a new road.

I'm loving your report, and don't mind at all if it is done sporadically over time. It's welcome entertainment.



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