Travertine terraces at Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs

mammoth hot springs

Out first stop in Yellowstone National Park was at Mammoth Hot Springs.

mammoth hot springs

I seriously felt like I had just stepped out of the space craft on to the surface of another planet.

I really like this scene above of a photographer in this photographer’s paradise.

mammoth hot springs

According to the National Park Service website: Travertine terraces are formed from limestone. Thermal water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of the dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate). At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white mineral forming the rock of travertine terraces. The formations resemble a cave turned inside out. Colorful stripes are formed by thermophiles, or heat-loving organisms.

mammoth hot springs

I’ve been in love with travertine ever since I led the Marble Masterpieces tour for the Los Angeles Conservancy for many years. So it was pretty amazing to see it forming under my feet.

mammoth hot springs

If you’ve ever visited the Getty Center in Brentwood (Los Angeles, California) the whole complex is built in travertine. (Click here to view one of my posts about the Getty.)

mammoth hot springs

I love reflections and random objects and making connections, so this combination of live trees reflected in the water and a dead tree in the foreground spoke to me. These unexpected opportunities are why I enjoy photography.

mammoth hot springs

From the National Park Service website: Mammoth Hot Springs are a surface expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, scientists surmise that the heat from the hot springs comes from the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone thermal areas.

mammoth hot springs

In the center you can see the Historic District. From the National Park Service website: The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District includes Fort Yellowstone, where 35 structures remain from the 1890s and early 1900s when the US Army administered the park. Significant conservation policies were developed here that led to the origin of the National Park Service. The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District has statewide significance as the administrative and concession headquarters of the largest national park in Wyoming. Fort Yellowstone is also listed as a National Historic Landmark District, the highest designation.

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mammoth hot springs

mammoth hot springs

This last guy is called Liberty Cap, formed by a steady flow of hot water emerging from a single source which deposited layers of travertine. The cone continued to grow as long as there was a source of water which evidently dried up.

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