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A Rainbow Over Yellowstone

June 13, 2012
Mammoth terraces

Travertine terraces formed by geothermal aquatic features are one of Yellowstone’s most interested landscapes. Photo by Melissa Dowland

Today we fully immersed ourselves in Yellowstone. We started off the day with a glimpse of how biology and geology can interact. At Mammoth Terraces, we learned about thermophiles – microorganisms that can survive at high temperatures and color the springs at Mammoth yellow, orange, blue, and brown. This alien-looking landscape is due to both biological and geological processes — heat from the magma chamber miles underground, heated groundwater flowing through and dissolving limestone bedrock, chemical precipitation of travertine, and the living microorganisms that help give the terraces their remarkable shape and color.

In the afternoon we further explored the area surrounding Mammoth Terraces on Beaver Ponds trail, a ~5-mile trail that meanders past a series of active and inactive beaver ponds. In one small pond, we were excited to find a Columbia spotted frog — one of only four species of amphibians in Yellowstone. We were excited, though not too surprised, to see a beaver swimming in one of the beaver ponds. It was even more exciting to see another beaver sticking its nose out of the beaver lodge. About the time we were about to collapse with exhaustion, mother nature tugged at our heart strings by showing us a momma black bear enjoying a carefree stroll with her two cubs. We enjoyed watching the cubs play as they climbed a juniper tree and wrestled with each other. On our return, just when we thought it couldn’t get any more enchanting, a brilliant rainbow appeared on the horizon, welcoming us back to civilization.

Rainbow and Mount Everts

A picturesque and brilliant rainbow provides a colorful vista after a 5-mile hike on Beaver Ponds trail. Photo by Melissa Dowland

by Billie, Laura, and Mary

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2012 1:34 pm

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs and commented:

    June 12–20, 2012
    The Yellowstone Institute is part of the Museum’s Educators of Excellence Program, which strives to provide exceptional educators with staff development opportunities that transform the way they view and teach natural sciences. The Yellowstone Institute provides a unique opportunity for educators to learn about wildlife, geology, and conservation in America’s first national park.

  2. Ginny Byrne permalink
    June 20, 2012 3:21 pm

    Mammouth Terraces and a rainbow-what more is needed for an all too perfect day in Yellowstone! Ginny

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