Yellowstone: Volcano and Lieutenant Gustavus Doane Essay

Submitted By Alicia-Foltz
Words: 461
Pages: 2

Alicia Foltz
Professor Bennett
GEOL 110: EC
March 21, 2014
When Yellowstone Explodes
On August 29, 1870, Army lieutenant Gustavus Doane, who was apart of an exploratory expedition in the Yellowstone region, explored his way to the summit of Mt. Washburn. While observing, he noticed the Rocky Mountains were missing from sight. He explained in his notes, “The great basin has been formerly one vast crater of a now extinct volcano.” Later to find out, the lieutenant was correct about one thing and that Yellowstone is in fact a volcano. Yellowstone Park is the most oldest and famous national parks in the U.S. This park happens to sit directly on top of one of the biggest volcanoes on the planet. The “hot spot” responsible for the Yellowstone caldera has erupted numerous times as long as 18 million years ago. The tectonic plate above the hotspot is moving southwest and calderas from previous explosions are placed throughout southern Idaho and into Oregon and Nevada. The most recent three explosions all happened to occur in in Yellowstone. The most previous explosion was 640,000 years ago and was a thousand times the size of Mt. Saint Helens eruption in 1980. Scientists configured that the pillar of ash from the Yellowstone explosion rose 100,000 ft., resulting in layers of debris across the west all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The even earlier and more violent eruption 2.1 million years ago was twice as strong and left a hole in the ground that was as big as the state of Rhode Island. In the meantime, Yellowstone caldera has been eroded, filled in with lava flows and ash from smaller eruptions, and smoothed by glaciers. Though Doane in 1870 was right about Yellowstone being a volcano, he was wrong about it being extinct. In 1973, Bob Smith and a coworker were working on Peale…