Category Archives: Geology

How Fragile Basalt Can Be

Columnar Basalt Remains – Yellowstone National Park

I think of basalt as a hard, stable volcanic rock created from lava flows.  Columnar basalt is formed when lava cools slowly.  It forms multi-sided vertical columns as it cools.  These columns are characterized by horizontal fractures.  When the columns are exposed to rushing water, the water carves out these fractures and the columns collapse. This image illustrates the vertical basalt columns as well as the collapsed column residuals.

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs from Below

Mammoth Hot Springs – View from Below

This image was taken with a 900mm equivalent telephoto lens shooting up at the cascading edge of the upper Mammoth Hot Spring Basin.  What caught my eye were the lines and patterns of the water and mineral deposits.

This image does not capture the grandeur of the basin edge cascading off the cliff.  I went thorough my photos to find an overall image.  I did not find one.  Big Lesson Learned:  Make sure I do not become fixated only with details, I need to capture the overall perspective as well.

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Spring Cascades

Upper Mammoth Hot Springs Cascades

This image was taken from an observation point just below that of my previous post.  I liked the contrast of the orange-brown deposits against the white alkaline deposits.  The puffiness of the clouds balanced that of the deposits.

Next post, a view from below …

Yellowstone: The Edge

Upper Mammoth Hot Springs

Mist steamed from the hot spring water even though the ambient temperature was around 90 degrees,  The water flowed over a series of small cascades over the edges of the basin down to the valley below.  The cascades stood out from the mountains across the valley.

I converted this image to black and white to emphasize the water and the edge of the bluff.  It represents the feeling that I had when gazing over the edge.

Yellowstone: Grand Prismatic Spring – Lines 1

Grand Prismatic Spring -Mineral Flats

As the hot mineral water flows out of the spring, it creates a series of mineral flats.  This perspective  was a flat grey.  I decided to convert it  to black and white, add contrast, and apply a slight gradient across the image..

Yellowstone: Grand Prismatic Spring – Detail 1

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

A boardwalk runs along the edge of the spring.  The reflection of people walking along the walk caught my eye when the mist periodically lifted.  I did not have the foresight to be patient and take an image with a light mist to create the mystic feeling I felt.  Lesson learned;  Be ready to capture a “feeling” and not just a “picture”.

 

Yellowstone: Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world.  The immensity of the spring is very difficult to capture from the ground level.  I had my 24-105mm lens and only could capture a portion of the spring.  I could not change to my 14mm wide angle because of the extreme harsh mist generated by the hot spring.  On my next visit I will make two trips to photograph from the ground level.  The first will be with my wide aperture lens to try to capture as much of the overall grandness of the spring.  The second will be with my mid-range zoom to capture the details. To get a full photo of the spring, one needs to hike up the trail on the hill above the spring.  The trail is currently (June 2017) in construction and not accessible..

I found the details of the water and mud beds below fascinating.  Lines, colors, and reflections intrigued me.  I will display images of some of those images in future posts.

A Perspective of Time

Argillite Boulder – Rattlesnake Mountain, Washington

This image depicts an interesting perspective of time.  The rock in the foreground was deposited here on Rattlesnake Mountain around 15,000 years ago.  The Rattlesnake Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills in the background were created as part of the Yakima Fold formation about 1.5 million years ago.  The bedrock of this area is basalt from basalt flows through eastern Washington from 6-15 million years ago. The argillite boulder in the foreground is metamorphic rock from western Montana formed 1.5 billion years ago.

So here I was, sitting on a rock created before life on earth existed, brought here by a humongous flood around 15 thousand years ago, deposited on mountains uplifted 1.5 million years ago, created by a series of gigantic lava flows about 2 miles thick 6-15 million years ago.  And I think I am old at 67 years. As many of my Whizzy friends would say, “It’s a thinker.”