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Thermophiles (Greek for heat+love) are bacterial organisms that thrive at high temperatures (106-252 F, 41-122 C) and cause the amazing colors in Yellowstone’s hot springs. The specific color is determined by the type of microbes, the pH and the temperature at which they live. Water flowing from Yellowstone’s hot springs deposits minerals and sculpts them into intricate patterns. When coupled with the rainbow colors of the thermophiles, they form beautiful natural patterns that never cease to captivate my artistic eye.
Yellowstone National Park is famous for its fascinating hydrothermal and geological features such as geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. Yellowstone became the world’s first national park on March 1, 1872, in efforts to preserve these important natural wonders.
Yellowstone is a gigantic volcanic caldera (a large volcanic crater that is formed by a gigantic eruption that results in the collapse of the mouth of the volcano). Magma comes relatively near the Earth’s surface at Yellowstone, and the heat from it drives the hydrothermal activity. More than half of the world’s total active geysers are found within Yellowstone, as well as 10,000 other hydrothermal features.
Some of Yellowstone’s best-known features include Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Spring, Grand Prismatic Spring and Yellowstone Falls, which forms the “Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone”. Interestingly, Yellowstone is also home to the largest concentration of mammals in the contiguous (lower 48) states, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, mountain lions, pronghorn and wolves.