Exciting moment when we arrived this morning at the site..two huge black bears really close to the bathroom that we were next to....We moved away pretty quickly but watched as some crazy tourists got super close and were taking pictures.
SO let me tell you about the formations on top of the hot springs....Limestone far below the earths crust is dissolved by carbonic acid and brought to the surface by superheated waters in Yellowstone....carbon dioxide is released when it reaches the surface and the dissolved limestone becomes too heavy for the water to hold so it releases it and now it is called travertine...this forms ribbons and layers of stone on top of the hot springs. Travertine is white or grey in color but bacteria from the air creates brushstrokes of vibrant color on the travertines surface. The layers of bacteria and travertine also causes the shelves to constantly grow and change....a travertine formation can grow up to six feet a year if the conditions are right. New hot springs can pop up at any time as well so these geothermal environments are always changing.
Today we visited Mammoth Hot Springs which is covered in hot springs and travertine formations. We toured with our teachers Trudy, Jess, and Matt, who work in Yellowstone as Rangers. They were very informative about the site....They also pointed out many plants and flowers indigenous to the park and we spent time both drawing in our nature journals and doing a lab which involved measuring the temperature of the hot springs as well as testing PH and identifying types of bacteria growing around the springs. We had a picnic lunch overlooking the hot springs and I was filled in by the teachers from around here about the wonders and fun of the rodeo...I've been convinced that I need to go and check one out. The afternoon was spent in the studio making art using photosynthesis with local plant life.
Research is always being done on bacteria found in the hot springs and geysers at Yellowstone....The bacteria that scientists use most often today to read DNA from crime scenes was discovered in Yellowstone in 1965 near Old Faithful. Today, researchers are working with a microbe found in the Norris Geyser Basin to create new sunscreens and in cancer research. It was described to us as a bacteria, up to three inches thick, and dark purple on one side but bright green on the other... Over 200 different types of bacteria are found at most hot springs so the medical and industrial applications could be endless...Yellowstone teams with universities to encourage these discoveries.
Tonight we had a fantastic dinner (the food here has been delicious) and then an amazing talk and demonstration by artist and naturalist, George Bumann. He told us stories about the wolves in Yellowstone while sculpting a wolf out of clay...He is also originally from the Syracuse area which makes him even cooler in my book, and has been living his dream by teaching and sculpting out here for the past fifteen years. On Friday a group of us are going to go check out his studio which is very close to our cottage. He is currently working on a ten foot clay grizzly bear and cubs.