Yellowstone

Following KISS (Kyma International Sound Symposium) 2015, which took place under the big sky of Montana in August in Bozeman, we, a group of participants in the symposium — Carla Scaletti, Kurt Hebel, Joel Chadabe, Clifton Cameron, Pete Johnston, Greg Hunter — took a day to visit Yellowstone National Park.

 
 
We studied a map.

ynp_5020_theplanFrom left to right that's Pete Johnston, Clifton Cameron, Greg Hunter, Kurt Hebel (back to camera), and Joel Chadabe (looking at the map). Carla Scaletti took the picture.

And Kurt announced the itinerary to which we all agreed.

 
We hit the road.

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We had lunch in Gardiner.

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We entered Yellowstone National Park. Our first stop was Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. What is this? we asked. And as we learned, hot water that surfaces from deep reservoirs under the ground percolates upwards through buried limestone, absorbing calcium carbonate which it deposits on the surface in the form of layers that resemble travertine terraces.

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We continued to Norris Geyser Basin, a network of underground water-filled channels, many of which are vented to the surface as geysers, fissures in the Earth's surface that allow groundwater—collected in underground reservoirs and heated by hot rocks to a high-pressure boiling point—to erupt. The geysers had many diverse shapes. Most of them were gurgling or boiling continually and emitting steam with a strong scent of sulfur.

The entire area was full of people from around the world. As we walked through the area, we asked a few passersby what they thought.

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Steamboat geyser is distinctive. Its typical eruptions are less than 40 feet in height. There have been 167 eruptions recorded since 1878. But albeit infrequently, it has also produced several eruptions between 300 and 400 feet in height, the last one on September 3, 2014, giving it the reputation of being the tallest geyser in the world.

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We looked at several other geysers and hot springs ...

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As we walked back to the cars, we talked about what we had seen ...

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Carla put it well.

 
The inner Earth, she might have added, presenting itself to the surface as if to remind us of the fragility of our existence.

The image that follows here is part of the surface of Norris Geyser Basin. Much of it is beautiful, some of it fascinating, all of it subject to this warning, posted at the entry to the area, titled Dangerous Ground:

"In thermal areas the ground may be only a thin crust above boiling hot springs or scalding mud. There is no way to guess a safe path: new hazards can bubble up overnight, and some pools are acidic enough to burn through boots. More than a dozen people have been scalded to death and hundreds badly burned and scarred. Leaving the boardwalk or trail, or taking pets beyond this point, is unlawful and potentially fatal ..."

Well, on the other hand, if we're sensitive to Earth it's not so dangerous. We can view Yellowstone National Park as a unique and powerful multimedia show, with images, sounds, and smells, an example of Earth at work. The message is: Let's pay attention.

 
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Images and text by Carla Scaletti & Joel Chadabe, August 2015