(MTN NEWS) Yellowstone National Park is creating a new thermal area, and it’s so deep in the backcountry it took satellites to spot signs of the feature.
Jeff Hungerford, a Yellowstone National Park geologist, said the main signs they see are heat and carbon dioxide. But it emerged slowly, revealed in aerial and satellite photos over 15 years.
Dr. Mike Poland, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientist in charge said, “this is a new thermal area that’s really still developing.”
There is an area where trees and other plants have been killed by high temperatures and chemicals boiling up from underground near Tern Lake.
“You can see places where the trees have fallen and the underside of the tree that was facing the ground was sort of scorched,” Poland said.
Poland, Hungerford and a few others flew near the new site in a helicopter in August, then hiked in the rest of the way.
“It was … it was pretty. I felt an excitement, but also kind of a wonder that here we are at this new place that really has not been described, at least by people on the ground,” said Poland.
Which means they were the first people to ever walk and see this new feature.
“You do have the sense of like, wow, this is new, and you wonder what some of the early explorers or Native Americans must have thought when they saw these places for the first time,” Poland said.
Hungerford added, “It’s also a beautiful area, so it’s nice to be on those trails back there.”
Researchers say there are no water features at the new hot spot yet, but they note that there are some steam vents. Also, the ground is very hot and spongy, and in some areas it is soft enough to sink in and get burned.