Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week's contribution is from James Mauch, geologist with the Wyoming State Geological Survey.
It’s no secret there has been an impressive volume of geologic data collected on Yellowstone National Park since the first scientists set foot in the region 150 years ago.
The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) developed the online Geology of Yellowstone Map in 2020 in an effort to compile this growing quantity of data into an easily accessible, interactive and visual format. The map has since become a one-stop-shop for scientists, land managers, park visitors, and the general public to digitally explore Yellowstone’s rich geologic landscape and to link to various geospatial datasets from the area.
As the body of scientific data on Yellowstone expands, so too will the online map. In this spirit, the WSGS recently completed an update to the Geology of Yellowstone Map, adding new layers and revising several more to reflect the most current data.
Visitors to the map will now find new layers for seismic stations, GPS stations, temperature sensors, tiltmeters, streamgages, and snow telemetry sites (all within the monitoring group); water isotope samples and thermal infrared satellite imagery (thermal features group); and landforms (Quaternary surficial geology group).
Additionally, updates have been made to the thermal areas and gas samples layers within the thermal features group to incorporate recent data. The data for these map additions were provided by, among others, the University of Utah, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service and UNAVCO. This serves as yet another example of collaboration between YVO’s consortium members.
Let’s take a closer look at Yellowstone’s seismic stations, just one of the new layers you can find on the Geology of Yellowstone Map.
The University of Utah operates the Yellowstone Seismic Network to monitor and record earthquake activity throughout the Yellowstone region. The seismic stations layer displays the locations of stations from the YSN, along with several additional stations from seismic networks operated by the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, USGS, and UNAVCO. Clicking on an individual station will bring up information about the seismic network and operator along with links to the live seismogram and details about instrumentation. There is a wealth of information contained in these map popup links for those who want to learn more about the stations and instruments that record seismicity in Yellowstone.
If you haven’t yet visited the Geology of Yellowstone Map, all you need is an internet connection to get started. Access the map through the direct link or via the interactive maps panel on the WSGS homepage. An initial welcome screen explains some of the map functions, after which you’re free to explore the more than 100 layers contained in the map.
Toggle layers on and off in the Layer List tab, use the mouse to pan and zoom to areas of interest, and view attribute data by either clicking on a feature or opening the attribute table at the bottom of the screen. The Layer Explanation and Data Sources tabs provide background on each layer and a web link to the original source. This is useful if you want more information about the data or would like to download the data for yourself.
Thanks to research conducted by YVO’s members and other institutions around the globe, we learn more about the Yellowstone volcanic system each year and in turn have access to a mountain of geospatial information. The WSGS will continue to update the Geology of Yellowstone Map as more studies are published and new data are released, so be sure to keep checking in.
No matter if you’re a scientist, park visitor, or casual Yellowstone daydreamer, there is still much to discover from a little digital map exploration.