USGS Logo Geological Survey Bulletin 1347
The Geologic Story of Yellowstone National Park




Yellowstone country
   A geological preview

Geologic history of the Yellowstone region
   The nature of the rocks reveals their origins
   The oldest rocks
   The deposits of the shifting seas
   The first mountain-building episode
   Volcanic activity
   A quiet period
   More mountain building and deep erosion

Formation of the Yellowstone caldera
   The eruption
   The collapse
   The outpouring of lava

Final sculpturing of the landscape
   Running water — canyons and waterfalls
   Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Hot-water and steam phenomena
   How a thermal system operates
   Hot-spring deposits and algae
   Hot springs and geysers
   Thermal explosions
   Faulting and its control of thermal activity


The Park and Man


Selected additional reading

FRONTISPIECE Midway Geyser Basin


1. Geologic map of Yellowstone National Park


1. Geographic map of Yellowstone National Park
2. Index map showing photograph localities
3. Skyline of the Gallatin Range in northwestern Yellowstone National Park
4. View north along the Yellowstone River and Hayden Valley toward the Washburn Range
5. The rocks of Yellowstone National Park
6. The geologic time scale
7. View downstream along the Lamar River and closeup view of Precambrian gneiss
8. Positions of seaways and landmasses during the middle part of Permian time
9. Crowfoot Ridge in the southern Gallatin Range
10. Mount Everts
11. The faunal succession in sedimentary rocks
12. Beds of limestone along Pebble Creek and closeup views of outcrop and fossils
13. Common kinds of geologic structures produced by deformation of the earth's crust
14. Geologic structures in Yellowstone National Park
15. Intrusive and extrusive igneous rock bodies
16. The Absaroka volcanoes and their rocks
17. Massive beds of volcanic breccia of the Absaroka volcanic rocks and closeup view of outcrop
18. Massive layered breccias of the Absaroka volcanic rocks at Barronette Peak
19. Giant petrified tree trunks in Yellowstone's fossil forest
20. Closeup view of a specimen of intrusive igneous rock
21. Bunsen Peak, a body of intrusive igneous rock
22. Outline of the Yellowstone caldera
23. Various Stages in the development of the Yellowstone caldera
24. Extent of the rhyolite welded tuffs that once covered Yellowstone National Park
25. The Yellowstone Tuff at Golden Gate and closeup views of tuff specimens
26. Cross section through the Mount Washburn — Canyon area, showing relationships along north edge of the Yellowstone caldera
27. View southeast across Yellowstone Lake toward the Absaroka Range
28. Radar image of lava flows in southwestern Yellowstone National Park
29. Obsidian Cliff
30. Thick rhyolite lava flow along Firehole River and closeup view of specimen
31. Brecciated lava flows
32. Outcrop and closeup view of glassy rhyolite lava
33. Basalt flows at Tower and closeup views of outcrop and specimen
34. Giant glacial boulder of Precambrian gneiss at Inspiration Point
35. Glacial terrain along the Northeast Entrance Road
36. Typical profiles of canyons cut by stream erosion and glaciation
37. Aerial oblique view of Electric Peak
38. Extent of ice in Yellowstone National Park during the maximum spreading of the Pinedale glaciers
39. Beds of sand, silt, and clay deposited in a glacially dammed lake in Hayden Valley
40. Waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park
41. Grand Canyon and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River
42. Various stages in the development of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
43. Common kinds of thermal features in Yellowstone National Park
44. Norris Geyser Basin, showing solid floor of hot spring deposits
45. Diagram of a thermal system
46. Infrared image of a portion of Upper Geyser Basin
47. Mound of geyserite (sinter) at Castle Geyser
48. Terraces of travertine at Opal Springs and closeup of specimen
49. Algal-colored terraces lining the west bank of the Firehole River
50. A geyser in action
51. Rock rubble surrounding Seismic Geyser in Upper Geyser Basin
52. Old Faithful in full eruption
53. Mud volcano near Pocket Basin in Lower Geyser Basin
54. Reactivation of a fault during the Hebgen Lake earthquake of August 17, 1959

cover of reprinted edition
Cover from Yellowstone Library & Museum Association reprint edition

Based on a planned series of technical reports resulting from comprehensive geologic studies in Yellowstone National Park by the author and his colleagues, H. R. Blank, Jr., R. L. Christiansen, R. O. Fournier, J. D. Love, L. J. P. Muffler, J. D. Obradovich, K. L. Pierce, H. J. Prostka, G. M. Richmond, Meyer Rubin, E. T. Ruppel, H. W. Smedes, A. H. Truesdell, H. A. Waldrop, and D. E. White.

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the tract of land in the territories of Montana and Wyoming lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people * * *"

Approved March 1,1872 — signed by:
James G. Blaine, Speaker of the House
Schuyler Colfax, Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate
Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States

ROGERS C. B. MORTON, Secretary

V. E. McKelvey, Director

Library of Congress catalog — card No. 79—169200

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Last Updated: 18-Jan-2007