Yellowstone volcano activity is responsible for creating some of the world-famous attractions in the park—including the more than 10,000 geothermal feature found in the park, about 500 of which are geysers. Over the centuries, the super volcano in Yellowstone has created a landscape of mud pots, hot springs, steam vents, and between 250 and 300 geysers that erupt regularly, including Old Faithful.
This national park has nearly half of the world’s geysers, and the super volcano in Yellowstone went through massive eruptions and explosions that set the stage for what has become the largest geyser field in the world. When eruptions took place around Yellowstone volcano, they were accompanied by thick basalt and rhyolite lava flows, collapsing ground, and the creation of faults. The erosive effects of water flowing over rocks and melting ice helped shape the landscape of the Yellowstone National Park volcano area.
The creation of a Yellowstone caldera, a circular depression located at the peak of a volcano, resulted when the removal of excessive volumes of magna caused the ground to collapse forming the depression. The volcanic craters found elsewhere are significantly smaller than the Yellowstone caldera; the park has three extremely large calderas created by several eruptions that have occurred over the past 2 million years. The circular depressions of each caldera vary in size, with the most recent one measuring 27 miles across and 46 miles long.
If you’re interested in learning more about the volcanic history of the park, it’s possible to center your Yellowstone vacation on this topic. For instance, sites to visit that were created by the super volcano in Yellowstone include the Upper Geyser Basin, Lower Geyser Basin, Norris Basin, Old Faithful, Steamboat, which is the tallest geyser in the world, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Thermal activity around the Yellowstone volcano is also responsible for Mammoth Hot Springs and the colorful layered travertine limestone terraces especially the Minerva Terraces. In the Lower Basin, visitors have five miles to explore filled with steaming fumaroles, liquid pools of mud called mudpots, hot springs, and erupting geysers. At Fountain Paint Pots, for instance, you will have access to the park’s largest grouping of bubbling mudpots.
To see more effects of the Yellowstone National Park volcano activity, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the third-largest hot spring in the world. The huge pool of steam that hovers over the hot spring reflects colors giving the affect of a rainbow.
The Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest of Yellowstone’s geysers with temperatures over 400 degrees, provides observers with a variety of steaming fumaroles, hot springs, and Echinus Geyser. This is one of the most scenic parts of Yellowstone, and though hikers must stay on the marked paths rather than exploring on their own, it’s still possible to see a lot of different terrain and to learn about the volcanoes here.
Additional geysers created by the Yellowstone National Park volcano worth visiting are the Castle Geyser, which erupts every 11 to 13 hours generating a spectacular show shooting water 70 feet into the air, and the Riverside Geyser, which erupts roughly every six hours over the Firehole River. This geyser shoots water approximately 75 to 80 feet over the river, and the eruptions usually last about twenty minutes.
Located within the park, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is one of five U.S. Geological Survey observatories dedicated to this area. Because Yellowstone National Park has extensive natural thermal features—the largest in the world—the observatory’s function is to monitor volcano and earthquake activity within the park. The observatory is located in the northeastern region of the Yellowstone caldera.