Yellowstone National Park field sampling II

Second Day of Sampling at Yellowstone National Park

- July 2013 -

Crater Hills Geyser was just the beginning.. The next day, we met Eric at Madison junction, and decided to go to Rabbit Creek to sample. The springs sit on top of rhyolite, a type of volcanic rock originating from the Yellowstone formative eruptions, and we were curious how the rhyolite affected the spring chemistry. We made sure to pack our bear spray, as this site is known for its bears!

Grand Prismatic Spring. The different colors are different types of microbial mats living at different temperatures as the water on the edge cools flowing away from the hot central pool

We left the cars at the pullout with a stunning view on the steam emanating from Grand Prismatic Spring, and hiked in about 30 minutes to the source of Rabbit Creek, a gorgeous hot spring, with deep blue waters and temperatures approaching boiling! The spring is about 50 feet in diameter, and easily 20 feet deep. Gases would occasionally bubble up, reminding us how active a system we were sampling.

The source of Rabbit Creek: a deep blue hydrothermal spring

Another spring at Rabbit Creek. The near boiling water and undercut edges makes working by springs quite dangerous. It was good to be accompanied by Eric (in picture) from Montana State, an experienced hydrothermal spring microbiologist. The yellow box is our portable pump.

Finishing our sampling work there, we then hiked to another site up drainage and through a young pine forest to “Hell’s Gate”, a spring we did not dare approach too closely because hot steam was coming out of the ground around it. You can hear Hell’s Gate as you approach it. Its vigorous bubbling and vast steam column ensures you don’t sneak up on it. Above it, nestled in the rocks was a geysering pool, a real treat to the eyes and yet another reminder that we were working inside an active volcano.

Hell's Gate spring at Rabbit Creek, in Yellowstone National Park. the opening is approx. 9ft wide.

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Comment by Betul on July 17, 2013 at 6:21pm

(not that I am the hell gate's keeper or anything (or am I?)) <-- confessions of an evolutionary biologist

Comment by Betul on July 17, 2013 at 6:08pm

How wonderful! I always wanted to see the Yellowstone National Park, especially the Hell's Gate (does anyone else find that name offensive?) :) Thanks for sharing.

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