Yellowstone. Today pearl America, and tomorrow?

In the central part of the watershed of the Rocky Mountains, at the junction of the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho (but mostly in Wyoming), is a gem and plague America — Yellowstone National Park, in the literal sense of the word hot spots.

The park covers an area of about 900,000 gektoraov on a high plateau between the ridges nearly 4-km altitude. Established by Congress in 1872, he became the first national park, not only in America but in the world. At the entrance to it from the east to the huge stone arch can be read: "The park was created and exists now for the benefit and enjoyment of people, it is the property of Uncle Sam, and therefore all of us, all the people. President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1903. "

Millions of tourists from all over the world visit every year this unique reserve of the planet. There is hardly a second place in the world where it would be put together as the most imaginative wonders of nature and admire at the same time frightening. The place is fantastic and creepy. Not terrible in that they can see your eyes — the eyes appear a crazy exotic beauty, and even the threat it poses to himself.

Rapid River, rushing waterfalls with cliffs, arguing with them the beauty of stone waterfalls, though frozen in the summer, forests conifers, evergreen or charred fire, and beneath other forests, petrified — this is Yellowstone — "Yellow Stone." Here, all delights, amazing and disturbing. It breathes danger and wondrous beauty. Breathing planet itself — under your feet and over your head, hundreds shrouded with thick steam geysers, gurgling mud pots, all colors of the rainbow hot springs, steaming caves. And you begin to realize more than ever that it is, the planet — live! With its peaceful calm and patience — a temporary phenomenon, that at any moment she might wake up and shake you from your brow, or turn to ashes ….

People and animals — a utopian picture of paradise

The Indians called this land "the land of ice, fire, water, resin and revolving smoke." Yellowstone — A real forest reserve, which is inhabited by hundreds of species of diverse, not frightened animals — mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, some of which are listed as endangered. Herds almost extinct elsewhere mighty bison grazing in the Nagorno-steppe part of the plateau, deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep, deer, rabbits, chipmunks, beavers, thousands of colonies of prairie dogs living in the underground labyrinths. Black bears and grizzly gray hundreds (even they are out of the menacing invaders turned into cute beggars, though sometimes show the character), as well as foxes, coyotes, wolves.

They can be easily found not only on the slopes of the mountains, the river, in the desert or in the trees, and walking across the main roads and parking lots, sometimes with their families. Downright idyllic utopian picture of paradise, where people and animals live in peace, without fear and without touching each other. Animals fearless approach to the man and take a treat from him. But there are those with not eating as much rather would have eaten most of the giver, — a mountain lion, for example, cougar, wolf. Only people who are walking in large groups, so that they have not risen. And the living creatures around smaller missing. (By the way, about the wolf: Based on the federal program to restore natural populations of endangered species in early 1995, 29 Canadian gray wolves were released to the wild in Yellowstone Park, and now they're free and happy breed.) Of warm water and plenty of fish are attracted here numerous waterfowl — it swans, cranes, geese, ducks, pelicans.

About tourists seen touching concern: a comfortable place to rest and stay — camping, motels, hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants, parking lots, paved highway 250 miles, eight winding through the park, wooden decks and stairs with handrails, viewing platforms. However, to get to these sites, you need to work very thoroughly feet as Yellowstone Park — is not only forests and plateaus and deep canyons and steep mountainsides crazy …

Something I did it just like a tourist brochure advertising. But make no mistake, dear reader — all the time, so I still intimidate you, that you think twice, and whether in this paradise (aka hell) limits.

The park has many lakes, the largest — Yellowstone, on the shores of which hit hot springs and geysers. Among the latter Fishing Cone,
with a temperature of 93 degrees Celsius, which is two kilometers altitude lakes equivalent to the boiling point. Enthusiasts often hunted here before fishing (later any hunting in this brave reserve completely banned), pulled out of the lake trout, and on the same scaffold dipped it in Fishing Cone, where it almost instantly welded.

All the colors of the rainbow

Here everything looks strange, even small lake with a temperature of 60 degrees. More than half of all geothermal planet — Mammoth keys — focus in the park, there are about 10,000! Their place surfacing and spreading water through heat-loving algae and various pigments used, the micro-painted in all the colors of the rainbow. Painted like sweeping strokes of the artist — purple, yellow, orange, green, turquoise. Magical colors of this unique world in general does not hold. Around the hot springs, which color goes smoothly from dark blue in the center of a mini-crater to spectral shades of green along its circumference, — layers deposited yellow-white geyser. This amazing beauty Morning Glory, or, as it is called, "Eye of the Earth," like a huge sapphire or emerald set in gold.

Hot water with abundant dissolved salts of calcium in them for centuries and millennia form deposits on its way in the form of complex, sometimes bizarre configurations. On the slopes of the mountains are formed into fantastic terraces, which from afar seem frozen or petrified waterfalls. Each of the falls, as well as at all in the park since the trails have their own names. Of waterfalls, terraces, most impressive, "Department", "Cleopatra" and "Jupiter." In the last hundred meters high calcium layers are grouped in the sun sparkling cascade of colorful sculptural-architectural travertine (travertine — travertine) forms and vases — from very small up to 30 meters. Flowing water in a haze of giving them games and colors.

Geyser field

Yellowstone. Tourists watching the eruption of a geyser.

But without a doubt, "drawing card" of the park its geysers — one of five of the world's geyser fields (the other 4 on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Iceland, Chile, and New Zealand). They are concentrated in the Upper and Lower geyser basins on both sides of the rivers of fire (fire is because, thanks to the carotenoid its bottom has a bright red-orange-yellow).

Upper terrace — a place of the most active volcanic activity. Here incandescent magma coming to the surface only by 5-13 km, heating to boiling water seeping through porous rocks of the Earth's crust, and then throws it back to the surface as geysers, hot springs, mud and clouds of steam keys. And all this bubbling, gurgling, hums, clasps, bucks, hoots, champs, inspiring downright mystical fear.

Each geyser its "mode", their habits and characteristics. They then nap, then suddenly start to throw into the sky jet of hot water and clouds of steam. Emission lasts from several seconds to several minutes, after which the column of water falls down, and the geyser again to sleep. Some erupt at intervals of 2-3 years, the other — in a few days, smaller puffing like steam kettles, every 3-4 minutes. Geyser can dry out, but instead there will be new at the other place. But there are others that work like a charm.

To Old Faithful
(Ie, "old and faithful"), so named because of its punctuality, lead groups of tourists in Las Vegas to an artificial volcano on the Strip. Every 65 minutes, he throws a 60-meter, shrouded in steam jet. The eruption lasts for 4-5 minutes, then an hour lull. True, the recent "old campaigner" began to falter, it is seen so tired after all these years of service to travel agencies intact.

Other gush more than 100 meters, and the highest — to 115. Geyser "Giant", who built himself out of a real-scale pedestal crater, called "water volcano." Every four days, he rises to a height of 90 m mighty column of boiling water and steam. Steamboat
("Steamboat") — the highest active geyser in the world. He throws a column of hot water to a height of 122 m, but he's lazy, because after years of eruption can doze. And the most powerful geyser emits a single performance of up to 4000 tons of water!

But the real miracle Yellowstone — Awesome, awesome "Excelsior" — one of the greatest geysers Earth. It lies at the bottom of the cliffs lake sandwiched like a fairy dragon or Loch Ness monster. And when will decide to show themselves to the world, the surface of the lake, too, just like in the fairy tales, begins to worry, shrouded clouds of steam and out of the ground heard the ominous growling beast awakened. Rocks and earth begin to shake around, and suddenly throws a pond from the very center on the hundred-meter tall giant boiling water column with a diameter of 10 meters. Accompanying vapor rises to 300 meters.

This is a real eruption, not lava, and brought to the boiling point of water. And it is accompanied by a correspondingly roar, a belly rumble and hiss, tremors and explosions. High in air missiles fly torn from the lake bottom stones. Gradually all subsides, the beast calm — a column of water becomes lower and lower until it disappears altogether. The session is over. You can disagree.

Long, narrow and deep Grand Canyon (40 x 1 x 0.4 km), with steep, in some places like a knife cut through the edges, very similar to the fracture of the crust. While it is possible that the river with ice (melted 10,000 years ago) have worked well over it. Bottom of the canyon is clearly slanted because the Yellowstone River rushes on it with incredible speed, bubbling and foaming, and in two places, bumping into the deep cliffs, rushing down the roaring waterfalls, one of which the height is twice the Niagara.

Even cave in Yellowstone difficult. "Dragon's Mouth" Scalia sharp fangs rocks, spewing clouds of steam and hot water. For completeness, lacking only the flame. From another deep pit-hole — Sulphur Caldron
("Brimstone pot") belching smoke and the sharp smell like from the underworld, gray. Yes this is a real red-hot hell, which manifests itself on the surface of the fabulous paradise. Such mutually exclusive (and perhaps complementary) contrast and is all the deep essence of the land.

What is a supervolcano

Well, we now come to the second person of the Yellowstone Park, designated me as a "plague." What will be discussed, impressionable people better not to read, but nothing new I could not tell you …

Only in the middle of the last century, scientists began to realize that Yellowstone nothing like a giant caldera — the ruined laceration, formed on the body of the earth as a result of a catastrophic explosion supervolcano that occurred 630,000 years ago. Two subsequent volcanic activity cycle, which ended 70,000 years ago, led to the fact that the larger part of the caldera was buried under thick layers of rhyolitic lava can be easily traced on the slopes of the Grand Canyon.

Until recently, the the existence of supervolcanoes people did not even know existed. And yet it is the most destructive force on the planet. Power of their eruption in at least 10 000 times stronger than the usual volcanoes. Fortunately for us, they express themselves very rarely — once in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of years. But if it explodes, then a truly apocalyptic scale, capable of destroying life, not only on the continent, but in general in the world.

In structure supervolcanoes are unlike conventional conical volcanoes with crater inside. Pockets of molten rock they are much closer to the Earth's surface and are huge tanks pillows without surfacing.

According to one version, supervolcano eruption provokes reservoir of magma has long melted and softens the body of the rock above him. Magma and gases are looking for a way, the pressure increases. Preheat the bottom section of the earth's crust begins to swell, bend — on the surface a huge hump, up to several hundred meters in diameter and tens of kilometers. Around the perimeter there are numerous vents and cracks — so blowtorch to cut a hole in the metal, and then the entire central part supervolcano falls into the earth's molten copper, releasing tremendous energy, kopivshuyusya millennia. Monstrous explosion occurs. Magma, gases, ash and rock fragments are released into the sky.

While working on a story, I met with half a dozen descriptions of how to further developments (in general, the well-known people), on the continent, buried under a layer of ash, about what would happen to the atmosphere, sunlight, ozone holes , the acid rain, etc. etc. Supporters armageddonovskih forecasts with downright masochistic relish paint a picture of global cataclysm, in which the Earth together with a long night comes the icing. But I would not want to be like them. Let forecasts by scientists. To give just one statement made by Professor London Research University Bill McGuire: "Amid all the other supervolcano eruptions seem dwarfs its power — a real threat to all living things on this planet."

Humanity, fortunately, had ever become a witness and victim supervolcano explosion, as the latter happened on the Earth 74,000 years ago on the island of Sumatra. Toba supervolcano then threw more than 1,000 cubic meters. km of magma. Many researchers tend to consider this terrible disaster on a scale of one of the main causes of the Ice Age, in evolutionary terms flung Earth 2 million years ago. Toba caldera of a giant, an area 1775 square meters. km and a depth of 529 meters, now filled with water, turn it into a picturesque lake. Middle of the lake — green, seemingly innocuous island of Samosir. In reality, it is the tip of the new growing from the bottom of the caldera supervolcano — hump vygnuvshis vault crust area over 500 square meters. km covered with a thick layer of fossilized volcanic ash.

Scientists from Australia's Monash University suggests that two strong earthquakes that occurred in South-East Asia on 26 December 2004 and 28 March 2005, could be harbingers of the upcoming third, and that awakened earthquakes Toba could explode in the next decade.

Normal volcanoes in the world, there are about a thousand, supervolcanoes same — very few: Phlegraean Fields near Naples, for two in the UK, one in Scotland, in the central Lake District in Finland and on the island of Kos in the Aegean Sea. In addition, there are suggestions that such deposits exist under New Zealand, Kamchatka, in the Andes, the Philippines, Central America, Indonesia and Japan. Almost all the inaction (although Kamchatka inactive clearly not name).

Only supervolcanoes Yellowstone and Toba are in a special position.

Yellowstone caldera

Illustration Yellowstone caldera

If Toba caldera has an area of 1775 square meters. km, Yellowstone caldera 2 times more. Because of the mind-boggling size scientists long to discover it. The outlines of the caldera were visible only on images taken by satellites. It turned out that the whole park of 3825 square meters. km and has a caldera, beneath which lies a huge reservoir of magma. In other words, you and I have in the heart of the United States, the world's largest and also extremely active supervolcano.

The fact that the park in the distant prehistoric times the disaster indicates everything. Rolling plateaus, ridges and in general most of the park are covered with lava and ashes, formed thousands of years ago, and then smoothed by glaciers and covered with vegetation. But sometimes the real guts of these places, repeatedly experienced devastating disasters smaller, coming to the surface. Repeatedly — but how many?

The answer is given steep 600-meter slope Lamar River valley, on which, as on the cut, scientists counted 12 (!) Tiers petrified forest, "laid", as if packing sponge, thick layers of ash too petrified.

This Pompey vegetable yes, for sure, and the animal world. But trees are not burned out inside. Being buried alive, they are bogged down and slowly turned to stone. Here and there remained even thin branches and leaves. Other guns have become amazingly beautiful translucent agate with splashes of white quartz, amethyst and morion. In the valley of the river stands the huge Obsidian rock consisting entirely of obsidian — volcanic glass frozen.

And all of Lake Park — the deepest depressions torn caldera, filled with water. And the main among them, which is in the center of the caldera — Lake Yellowstone area of 370 square meters. km and a depth of 140 meters — one of the largest high natural water bodies in North America. For half a century, scientists are watching the strange behavior of its coastline, and, consequently, its bottom. Arriving on some parts of the coast, the water recedes from the other simultaneously. And after a period of time as these events would change places. The explanation can be only one, though, scientists and do not rush to publish their findings — the bottom of the caldera under the lake breathes, deformed, probably swells and falls. In other words, the underlying processes in supervolcanoes continue.

In 1999, the English geologist Professor McGuire prepared for the UK government's special report, in which he stated that, according to his calculations, Yellowstone to explode in 2074. Some volcanologists do not agree with it, believing that it could happen much earlier.

Scientists monitoring

In May 2001, was created Yellostonskaya Volcano Observatory. Among its objectives are to monitor volcanic and geothermal activity in the park and the assessment of possible risks associated with this activity.

For example, in 2003, on the advice of the scientists was limited access to the pool geysers tourists as equipment recorded increased activity of the subsurface and the increase in water temperature in several geysers. Boiling water was so cool that instead of water rises to the surface only dense steam. In the same year, at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake there is a small cone, indicating that the emerging new volcano.

In 2006, it was discovered that the soil in two places at the park rises at a rate of 7 cm per year. This is the news for some time riveted the attention of the world media. However, experts have tried to reassure the public and the press, saying that in the near future there is no reason for anxiety and panic.

Yellowstone bowels of the earth are never quiet.

Every year there are thousands of small, no tangible man earthquakes. In historical times there are at least six major earthquake with a magnitude of 6-7.5 on the Richter scale. From the strongest of them in 1959 (7.5 points), killed 28 people, partially destroying the dam and formed a new lake, which is well named Earthquake Lake,
and in the park there were cracks in the ground, spewing clouds of steam. Within three months of 1985, there were about three thousand of weak shocks in the north-western part of the park. Local residents say that sometimes even a well perceptible earthquakes authorities do not report, but did not register them.

In the park is equipped with a hundred points of data collection. According to scientists, to monitor Yellowstone — all like being in a cage with a sleeping tiger, every new movement which makes tremble. Having set himself the task to calculate the date of the next eruption of Yellowstone supervolcano, they found that the land in the park rose by 74 cm compared with the level in 1923.

In 2004, working in the park volcanologists have prepared a special report to the U.S. Congress, which was immediately classified. Another report on the status of the Yellowstone caldera has been published in the journal Science
November 9, 2007. A team of scientists from the University of Utah and the U.S. Federal geological inspection, using data from the Global Navigation Satellite System GPS, and radar measurements from the board of one of the European satellite map, informed the government to increase the geological activity in the area of the national park.

Recently
Yellowstone There was a group of scientists with new equipment capable of detecting the pressure of the earth's interior. Experts are seriously discussing options and calculate how to defuse or reduce the pressure with a series of artificial mini-eruptions. Moreover, all are well aware that to adjust and control the element of this scale by artificial means man can not — too unequal power that such intervention can have the opposite effect, triggering an apocalyptic explosion because squeezed in the ground only of magma waiting to get out .

However, perforate Yellowstone zealous scientists are unlikely to. As for the predictions of the imminent eruption of one of the two supervolcanoes, then, first, if destined to happen, it is still anyone anywhere to escape. And secondly, and most important: the geological concepts of "soon" can mean 10, and 100, and 1000 years …

Eleanor Mandalyan
Los Angeles
August 2012

Category: Scientists, experts, science

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