Geothermal Wonders: A Surprisingly Young Landscape

In Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a geothermal wonderland, famous for its spouting geysers, vibrant hot springs, and mudpots. But how young are these geothermal features? Surprisingly, some are less than 20 years old!

Yellowstone’s Newest Thermal Area: An Up-Close and Personal Visit by Yellowstone Volcano Onservatory highlights the dynamic nature of Yellowstone’s geothermal landscape. Thermal features can change rapidly, with new ones emerging and existing features transforming over time.

One example from the article details a geothermal area discovered in 2001 using thermal infrared satellite imagery. By 2009, the area exhibited the characteristic white chalky ground indicative of many other thermal regions in the park.

“Dynamic” is the name of the game in Yellowstone, especially when it comes to thermal features, which can change rapidly. Sometimes they heat up, like the Norris Geyser Basin did in 2003, and at other times they cool down, which is evident from the countless “dead” thermal areas—places of altered whitish ground but without elevated temperatures or discharge of gas or water. The appearance of the new feature near West Tern Lake is not an indication of heightened volcanic activity, but rather is part of the life cycle of Yellowstone’s dynamic hydrothermal systems.”

Exploring Yellowstone’s Geothermal Gems

While some features may be young, Yellowstone’s geothermal landscape boasts a rich history. Here are five of our favorite geothermal sites:

  1. Upper Terraces: Home to cascading hot springs and vibrant colors.
  2. Beehive Geyser: Nicknamed for its beehive-shaped cone, this geyser erupts frequently, offering a thrilling spectacle.
  3. Grand Prismatic Spring: The largest hot spring in the United States, renowned for its rainbow-colored rings.
  4. Castle Geyser: One of the oldest geysers in Yellowstone, with a long history of eruptions.
  5. Mud Pots: A fascinating display of boiling mud bubbling and churning.


Yellowstone National Park offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness the dynamic power of geothermal forces. Teton Science Schools Wildlife Expeditions provides an intimate look at some of the Park’s most classic features, on your terms. So, book your trip, pack your bags, grab your camera, and join us this July!

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