Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra

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The Beauty of Yellowstone


Yellowstone National Park


Yellowstone National Park is a wild and rugged region. The sites of hot springs, calderas, geysers, boiling mud pots and sulfur pots are deadly- yet- beautiful and fascinating.  In the last few days a series of earthquakes have rocked the region. Some people believe it is the prelude to the big one. But hundreds of earthquakes around this remarkable area are normal.

But something is happening underneath the park, things are changing within the super-volcano.  There has been a group of hundreds of quakes since early February  along with countless smaller tremors. The largest earthquake was an unexceptional magnitude 2.9, and all of them have hit about five miles beneath the surface. Larger earthquakes have rocked the region in the past some have caused serious damage and other very little damage.

With this most recent series of quakes, scientists say there's no reason to worry. "Supervolcano" and "earthquake swarm" might seem like frightening terms on the surface, but in Yellowstone National Park, these geologic features are relatively nonthreatening.

What is an earthquake swam?

Earthquake swarms occur when a single area experiences an increase in quakes over a short period of time without the trigger of a large quake. Swarms can result from changes in stress along fault lines, which can be caused by either large-scale tectonic forces or pressure buildup due to changes in magma, water, or gas underneath Earth's surface.

The region where this current swarm is happening is about 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana. This area is under pressure from both these forces, since Yellowstone is a hotbed for seismicity. But earthquake swarms are recurrent in the region, accounting for more than half of the parks' seismic activity. And they haven't triggered any volcanic eruptions yet.

Last year, a swarm ten times larger than the current one rocked the same region, making about 2,400 earthquakes between June and September 2017. Scientists believe this year's swarm could actually be just a continuation of last year's events, since seismic activity in the area can be sporadic but ongoing. Of course this is just an educated guess from all the data collected and studied, no one really knows what is going on since this is a relatively new field in the prosperity of man.

Yellowstone National Park is a “Super Volcano” and what is a “Super Volcano?

A super volcano is a massive volcano that is capable of erupting with devastating worldwide consequences. A huge magma pocket lies below the Yellowstone super volcano, which violently erupted more than 630,000 years ago. That eruption rocked the region, spewing ash and rock and carving out a volcanic depression that frames most of the national park today. Chilling as this may sound, the Yellowstone supervolcano is not going to erupt anytime soon. It's been dormant for tens of centuries, and the most recent eruption happened about 70,000 years ago. Volcanologist’s believe it is not an looming hazard, studies has determined that there is no magma that is ready to erupt within any probable future. Still, there's no way to tell when the supervolcano actually is going to blow, just educated guesses.

The U.S. Geological Survey puts the odds of another massive explosion at about 1 in 730,000, which is similar to the chance of a disastrous asteroid collision, so far so good. So, rest easy people. When it does erupt, Yellowstone's supervolcano will most likely burst in one of three parallel fault zones that run north-northwest across the park. Knowing this helps scientists know which parts of the park should be monitored for future eruptions.  Yellowstone is an on- going study and data collecting.

Compared to the scheme of things the recent and on -going activity which is happening in Yellowstone give scientists the opportunity to study the activity, change synopsis and collect data and too learn more on this field. During periods of change is when scientists can refine their facsimilia of how the Yellowstone volcanic system works, and lets the scientists redefine their previous data.

Earthquake swarms are common in Yellowstone, and there's nothing to be worried about. Of the 1,000 to 3,000 quakes that happen each year in Yellowstone, most are not felt. The largest swarm on record happened in 1985, when more than 3,000 earthquakes hit the area over the course of three months. And a couple was huge quakes which caused some destruction within the park.

If it is any conciliation, Yellowstone is one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world, closely studied by meticulous researchers armed with a slew of data from sensors and satellites. Their task is to look for geologic changes in the area. They continuously monitor hot spots along the walkways within and around the area for public safety and for record keeping and events which may occur.

As for the current earthquake swarm hitting the Yellowstone supervolcano, scientists believe it's slowly petering out, although these things peek and ebb, it's a bit problematic to say that it's ending or slowing down or the beginning of another series of events, or just continuing as it is.

Mineral rich pools are caused by bacteria and thermophiles growing around the edges, creating the striking colors. The heat from three super eruptions thousands of years ago still powers the parks geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots.  This is Yellowstone the most remarkable and unique place on Earth.


Thermophiles live in Yellowstone’s hot pools

These heat lovers, known as thermophiles, thrive at temperatures of 113 degrees F or more. They’re often found in hot springs, geysers and even home water heaters.  The ability of thermophiles to survive under such extreme conditions is remarkable and fascinating, especially given that these microorganisms use many of the same metabolic and physiological processes as we do. Like humans and other organisms, thermophiles rely on proteins to maintain normal cell function. While our protein molecules break down under intense heat, a thermophile’s proteins actually work more efficiently.

Because of their important functions, these proteins are the targets of a large number of today’s medicines. One way that scientists learn more about how a protein functions — and how a medicine might interact with it.


Yellowstone Expert Warns of Climate Change in Park

Research that’s been going on in Yellowstone for more than 40 years is telling us the waterfall will thaw much earlier in the spring and it won’t freeze until much later next fall. This is affecting the wildlife and vegetation. Some areas of Yellowstone have seen snow melt up to 30 days sooner than the historical average. Yellowstone’s diverse topography and range of ecosystems present make the park hardier when it comes to such changes, because of varying topography and huge elevation differences. Yellowstone has lots of different ecosystems, and micro-climates. Which allows plants and animals to adapt better than other areas, scientists believe.

I love Yellowstone National Park- I encourage people to visit Yellowstone at least once in your life. You will be amazed with all the different things to see. The smell of sulfur , the sounds of boiling water, the bubbling mud pots, geysers spewing hundreds of feet into the air, crystal clear or deep blue pools of hot water, and waterfalls. Bears, Elk, Wolves, Moose, Beavers, Bob Cats, Cougars and Buffalo’s. Mountains, valleys, snow topped glaciers, meadows, wet lands and so forth. But once you visit Yellowstone you will want to return again and again.





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