Things To Do: Quadrant 3

quadrant 3Quadrant 3: Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs

Now we’re going a little out of order, but Quadrant 3 is the northwest side of our “figure 8”. The two main attractions in Quadrant 3 are Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs.

3934285865_fc1cc82527_oNorris Geyser Basin – Norris Geyser Basin is an easy 3 mile hike along a boardwalk. Norris Geyser Basin is one of the hottest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal areas. Each year at Norris new hot springs and geysers appear; others become dormant. Geologic events cause many of these changes. Even small earthquakes can trigger changes in hydrothermal behavior.

There are too many geysers and pools to list them all, but you will pass most of them along your walk.

8377083026_5162674b57_oMammoth Hot Springs – The volcanic heat source for Mammoth Hot Springs remains somewhat of a mystery. Scientists have proposed a number of sources, including the large magma chamber underlying the Yellowstone Caldera, or perhaps a smaller heat source closer to Mammoth.

Mammoth Hot springs also has lots of things to see (Grassy Spring, Palette Spring, etc.) but the two most famous are probably Orange Spring Mound and Cleopatra Terrace.

Orange Spring Mound – OrangeSpringMound_4169-71USMThis spring flows from several vents from its top and side. Its striking colors come from the thermophiles living in the hot water.

The spring from this mound is cooler than other thermal features at Mammoth Terraces which allows orange-colored cyanobacteria to dominate. The brilliant color changes from season to season depending on the flow rate and the amount of available sunlight.

The mound appears as a large cone-shaped hot spring, but it actually formed along a fracture line of a fissure ridge.

8859380801_12776ae463_kCleopatra Terrace – Due to confusion related to the intermittent nature of many of the springs in the Mammoth Area, the name Cleopatra Spring has been given to at least three different springs over the years. As the confusion developed the original Cleopatra Spring came to be called Minerva Spring.

Isn’t that crazy?! Nature is constantly changing the landscape of our world. Some changes are more rapid than others. Norris Geyser Basin is part of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. And it sits on the intersection of three major faults. One runs from the north; another runs from the west. These two faults intersect with a ring fracture from the Yellowstone Caldera eruption 640,000 years ago. These conditions helped to create this dynamic geyser basin.

Sure Yellowstone is beautiful, but take a minute and think about what makes it so beautiful. Read up on the science behind this place. It is fascinating! I was watching a nature show on deep sea life and it was talking about some organisms that live underwater that survive solely off of the light/energy from the sun and nutrients that drift down. It thence compared those to organisms that live so deep underwater that they are live off the same kind of heat/energy except not from the sun but from the planet’s core. SCIENE!!! Yellowstone is a great place to see science in action, and Quadrant 3 is full of it.

Next we will look at our fourth and final quadrant. Check back in with us!

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Dehn Craig

Dehn ran track in high school and was the high school hurdle coach while still a student. After working in video production and getting an Engineering degree followed by an MBA, Dehn has finally found a home as our Marketing and Creative Director. He loves exploring the national parks and telling stories.