The Dynamic Changes of the Yellowstone Ecosystem

While cataloging, I came across a chromolithiographic print. The process commonly occurred in the early 20th century to color a black and white photograph. The print I found was of Sapphire Pool. Perhaps what struck me the most about this print was the pattern of rock formations (technically called geyserite knobs) appearing above the pool.

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Also interesting is the lone figuring gazing upon the pool. Seeing people taken with awe is still common today, although there is an addition of camera phones and selfie sticks. Also people are probably not able to get as close to the pool as that man is. Today, people are confined to boardwalks, for their safety and the safety of the ecosystem.

I wanted to pay this pool a visit, so I did some research. I found out, that while Sapphire Pool is still that brilliantly bright blue color, the rock formations are no longer there. The Hebgen Lake Earthquake of 1959 turned the still pool into a geyser. Sapphire Pool violently erupted for nearly ten years. The eruptions caused complete removal of the geyserite knobs, thereby completely altering the appearance of Sapphire Pool. Yellowstone is a dynamic ecosystem, particularly because of a super-volcano submerged under earth’s crust. Violent, unexpected changes are not unheard of. While prints fortunately exist to show people in the present what areas like Sapphire Pool looked like, the ecosystem is extremely dynamic. In a sense, nothing in Yellowstone’s ecosystem can be perfectly preserved the way it was from the park’s conception.


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