Yellowstone National Park

September 17-22 1997

This semester's field trip was truly a glorious feat. We convinced the department to send us far afield, all the way to northeastern Wyoming--to Yellowstone National Park. The unique geology of the Yellowstone area was an unparalleled learning opportunity for us. Some students were taking Chris Chyba's seminar on "Origins of Life," looking at some of the outstanding problems in the early Earth environments, and many features of Yellowstone provide insight into these problems. Hot spring environments contain many mineral nutrients and many unique single-celled organisms that may be closely related to the earliest microbes. We also studied the mechanics, physics, and chemistry of the area's most famous features, the geysers. One doesn't have to hunt far for a planetary connection here, as we see evidence for similar plume activity on Io and Triton.

Thanks to David Trilling, Eric Wegryn, Joe Spitale, Zibi Turtle, Rachel Mastrapa, Pete Lanagan, Greg Hoppa, and Barb Cohen for pictures!

Day 1: The Trip to Wyoming

Day 2: Northeastern YNP and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Day 3: Northwestern YNP and Madison Canyon

Day 4: Artist Paint Pots, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Midway Geyser Basin

Day 5: Old Faithful, Obsidian Cliff, and Black Sand Basin

Day 6: The Return Trip

Wildlife: Fauna of the Park