Friday, October 28, 2011

[Geology2] New website provides interactive info on Yellowstone

New website provides interactive info on Yellowstone
By Business Report Staff

October 28, 2011 -- YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) Yellowstone Geologic Geographic Information System (GIS) Database features a new interactive website about the region's geologic past and present activity.

"Geologically, the Yellowstone area is one of the most interesting places in the world," said WSGS Director Wallace Ulrich. "This website was designed to gain a better understanding of the Yellowstone hotspot where a future volcanic eruption, fracturing or the release of geothermal fluids from the caldera may occur," he said.

The Yellowstone Plateau in northwestern Wyoming has a long geologic history with earthquakes, expanding and retreating glaciers, powerful geothermal explosions, and cataclysmic volcanic eruptions, the most recent being the Yellowstone Supervolcano, which erupted 640,000 years ago.

Interactive maps illustrate the geology, earthquakes and hydrothermal areas that make up the park. The site includes downloadable GIS data sets that allow viewers to see layers ranging from past geologic events, to satellite imagery, volcano monitoring equipment and more in the park. The data also may be viewed via Google Earth with 3D visualizations of the area.

The WSGS Yellowstone Geologic GIS Database website also includes more than 20 data sets available to download (individually or combined); high resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and digital elevation models; earthquake data (historical and current); geology (bedrock, surface, geothermal, etc.); live webcams; live earthquake feed, and more.

"Interestingly," said Ulrich, "the volcanic events that formed Yellowstone were not the products of many million years of geologic change ending many millions of years ago. We are seeing a time scale compressed into only the last 2.1 million years."

Data collection and the mapping efforts of the WSGS are intended to further research and information on Yellowstone's geologic past and future.

"With this Web-based tool, we have assembled data from a host of research entities into a single searchable format," Ulrich said. "This website will be continually updated providing us with the opportunity to interpret the past and hopefully plan for the future of Yellowstone," he said.

Also available on the WSGS website ( is a link to information on landslides in the state. The WSGS has mapped more than 30,000 landslides in Wyoming, and maintains an active database of these locations.

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