Monday, September 18, 2017
The Smell of Hell
Yellowstone is an excellent place to experience that our planet is very much alive. Here you can explore the beating heart of the earth, its spitting habits and its heat. Literally.
In my post about Mammoth Hot Springs I mentioned that the hot water that feeds that area comes from the Noris Geyser Basin. Today I take you right there.
Noris Geyser Basin is the hottest and most changeable thermal area in Yellowstone. It features the world's tallest active geyser, colorful hot springs, and microscopic life in one of the most extreme environments on earth.
Noris Geyser Basin is hot with all the steam hissing from everywhere, and it's smelly - sulfur! Ancient explorers referred to the odor of geysers as the "Smell of Hell" and you can smell it in many corners of Yellowstone, but especially in the Noris Geyser Basin. Funny enough though, I never thought it such a bad smell. Yes, geysers do emit a bit of a stench due to the elevated levels of sulfuric acid and hydrogen sulfide gas contained within the geysers themselves. For me this smell belongs to Yellowstone, it is a natural part of it and while not pleasant, it's not that bad either.
It bubbles and hisses everywhere.
The typical colors of Yellowstone - orange and emerald or turquoise - are found in this area as well, even though not quite as intense as we have seen these colors at the Grand Prismatic Spring. That place is pretty unique.
You can walk along the many pools and lakes. But remember to stay on the boardwalk! The ground is hot, not solid in all places (it's a thermal area after all) and there have been people who died here - most of them as a result of pure stupidity. You don't believe me? Well, read this story. Enough said.
So stay on the trails and enjoy this unique environment. The emerald color of the water tells of minerals,
and this water is colored with mineral and microscopic life forms.
Hot springs in something that looks like a cold environment (I think this is in the Porcelain Basin, but I don't exactly remember).
The mud puddles are so entertaining to watch. They bubble continuously and make like "blob" sounds. Sometimes they spill mud all around - it's a good idea not to get too close. They are particularly popular with children!
Even though it's smelly, this shouldn't keep anyone from witnessing one of nature's most incredible displays of raw, unbridled power.