Michael Poland

Michael Poland

The melting roads of Yellowstone National Parks

By: - September 13, 2022

No doubt you’ve heard the story—roads have melted in Yellowstone National Park, which is supposedly evidence that the region is “heating up” and that a volcanic eruption is imminent. This story gained a lot of traction in 2014—that was the year of a magnitude-4.8 earthquake (the largest to have occurred in Yellowstone National Park since […]

Touring the volcano-shaped landscape of Yellowstone National Park

By: - June 1, 2022

The road over Dunraven Pass between Tower and Canyon Junctions, in the northeast part of Yellowstone National Park, exposes an outstanding sequence of geological history, much of which significantly predates recent Yellowstone volcanism. Construction work closed the road during the summers of 2020 and 2021, but the route is now open. The occasion provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover […]

A hole in the map: Early American explorers weren’t sure what to do about Yellowstone

By: - March 15, 2022

The isolated and rugged Yellowstone region remained a “hole” in the map of North America until the 1870s.  Indigenous North Americans knew the area well, but it was one of the last places on the continent to be explored by Euro-Americans. Indigenous North Americans have long known of the wonders of Yellowstone.  Archeological evidence shows that […]

Wait, so the volcano in Yellowstone is sinking?

By: - March 11, 2022

Yellowstone is a caldera system—a large volcanic area that was never home to a single towering volcano, but that has experienced eruptions so large that the ground collapsed into the emptied magma chamber.  While these caldera-forming eruptions grab most of the attention, it is far more common that caldera systems see smaller eruptions.  Between eruptions, the ground deforms—rising and […]

The 1896 ride of the buffalo soldiers through Yellowstone National Park

By: - February 1, 2022

Many would enjoy the adventure of a bicycle expedition to Yellowstone National Park.  But imagine doing it in 1896, before pavement, lightweight cycles, and modern camping equipment.  The Buffalo Soldiers who made up the volunteer Bicycle Corps of the 25th Infantry Regiment were up to the challenge! An iconic photo from Yellowstone’s early history depicts […]

Yellowstone National Park — the Year 2021 in review

By: - January 3, 2022

It was business as usual in 2021 at Yellowstone—earthquakes, ground deformation, geyser eruptions, and lots of field work! As is tradition, this first Caldera Chronicles of the new year takes a look back at what happened in Yellowstone during the previous 12 months. Yellowstone is a very active place in terms of seismicity.  Typically the University […]

Why can’t we drill in Yellowstone to stop eruptions, make power?

By: - December 21, 2021

Drilling is often suggested as a means of preventing Yellowstone from erupting. It seems like a reasonable idea, but the volcano doesn’t work that way. And while it might be possible to generate power by geothermal drilling, that would risk disturbing the thermal features of Yellowstone—one-of-a-kind geologic and cultural treasures, with no way back when […]

Silver Gate was Mammoth before Mammoth Hot Springs

By: - September 8, 2021

Just south of Mammoth Hot Springs, near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, lies a jumble of white/gray rock known as the Hoodoos or, more formally, Silver Gate.  The origin of this deposit is a quintessential tale of the dynamic nature of Yellowstone. Imagine you have just arrived at the north entrance to Yellowstone […]

Meet Yellowstone National Park’s sibling, Taupō, New Zealand

By: - July 19, 2021

Yellowstone is not the only large caldera system in the world.  Caldera systems can be found all over the planet. In New Zealand, the Taupō caldera system shares many similarities with Yellowstone—a history of large eruptions, geysers and hot springs, and even earthquake swarms and ground deformation, some of which might be related to magmatic intrusions. […]

Where did that 60 million years go?

By: - June 14, 2021

Visitors to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park might have noticed an odd geological feature near the top of Mount Everts—an unconformity! This juxtaposition of different rocks serves as a marker of missing history in the Yellowstone region. An unconformity at the top of Mount Everts is located where the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, 2.1 million […]

The odd columns of Sheepeater Cliffs

By: - April 26, 2021

Visitors to Yellowstone might have noticed a small sign between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction that points down a side road to “Sheepeater Cliff.”  A short drive down this road reveals an exceptional example of a common feature of volcanic flows, columnar jointing. Sheepeater Cliffs is part of a basaltic lava flow that erupted north and […]