Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nature Paints: Yellowstone National Park

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park have always been fascinated by the large populations of big animals; the wildflowers, trees and geysers. What was most fascinating to me however was the rainbow of colors produced by water, minerals and microorganisms. Microorganisms comprise the most significant biomass in the park.

The stunning blues are due to selective reflection
of blue light by water. West Thumb Geyser Basin,

Yellowstone lake beyond.

The stunning whites are Sinter a porous silica mineral.
Cathedral Geyser Cone.
Sinter can kill surrounding vegetation

Red/orange hues can be due to
Iron minerals or Cyanobacteria

The name implies blue organisms..but during the summer their color is masked by Carotenoids, orange pigments to protect them from the sun. Cyanobacteria are Thermophiles, heat lovers.

The Prismatic Spring even has colored steam
This is not a microorganism!
Spasm Geyser
In cooler streams, algae can flourish.
 Cyanobacteria orange, algae, green.
Porcelain Geyser Basin.
See the algae?

Porcelain Geyser Basin
The Emerald Pool is not green due to algae.
Sulfur deposits combine with the blue hue of the water.
 Elk are not algae either.
Most mineral springs are neutral to alkaline, but some are acidic. Thermoacidiphiles live in acidic springs.

Sulfolobus bacteria live in the Sulfur Caldron.
Dragon Spring. Dragons live here.
Mule Deer are not bacteria.

Nature even paints the grass in Yellowstone.

And hides Coyotes in it.
No post on Yellowstone would be complete without it!
Light fades on the Firehole River.
Sun sets on Yellowstone Lake
Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the wilderness ~John Muir


  1. Terrific post, Cindy. Fantastic colours and non-microorganisms. Prismatic Springs are quite amazing. Yellowstone is a place on my bucket list.

  2. Love this color palette! Gonna have to bookmark this post!

  3. Oh gosh -those photos are fantastic! I especially like the colors in the prismatic spring. I haven't been to your blog for a while but the color scheme and setup is very effective!

  4. Wow! Incredible colors, beautifully captured and poetically described. Wonderful post.

  5. These are amazing photos & notes, Cindy! Beautiful & informative.