Category archive

Yellowstone - page 3

Yellowstone Seeing Swarm Of Small Earthquakes This Week

in Yellowstone/News
12170

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park has seen almost 300 small earthquakes in the last week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The event is a fairly typical earthquake swarm, the USGS said.

Earthquake swarms are sequences of elevated earthquake activity with no clear originating event and are common in Yellowstone and other places.

The park saw 280 earthquakes in just a few-day period, the USGS reported on Saturday on social media.

“Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region,” the USGS said on social media over the weekend. “This swarm is similar to one that occurred in about the same place during December 2020.”

Swarms occur in a variety of volcanic and tectonic settings and have several possible causes, ranging from a slow fault slip at a few patches between two tectonic plates or magma-filled cracks pushing their way through the crust.

The most common way swarms are generated, though, is when water enters and interacts with pre-existing fault lines in the earth’s crust, which is probably what caused the most recent swarm in Yellowstone, according to the USGS.

Yellowstone National Park’s seismic activity increased in 2020, with the park experiencing about 500 more earthquakes than in 2019. At least 1,722 earthquakes were recorded, an increase from 2019, when the park experienced 1,218 earthquakes.

The park can experience anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 earthquakes per year, according to historical records.

Only three of the 1,722 earthquakes recorded in 2020 could actually be felt, meaning people reported some shaking.

Around 890 of the earthquakes occurred as a part of 26 swarms.The largest swarm occurred the week of Sept. 10, when 123 earthquakes happened in a one-week period.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone Sees Best June On Record With Almost 1M Visitors

in Yellowstone/News
12101

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park continues to see its visitation records smashed this summer, recording its best June on record, according to park officials.

The park hosted 938,845 visits in June, a 64% increase from last year (with 573,205 visits) and a 20% increase from June 2019 (781,853 visits).

So far this year, the park has hosted 1,587,988 visits, a 17% increase from 2019. Visits in 2020 are not used for comparison because the park was closed for almost two months due to the coronavirus.

A report on the economic indicators for Wyoming for the first quarter of 2021 issued by the Department of Administration and Information shows tourism numbers have skyrocketed in the state this year compared to 2020.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks both saw more than a 20% increase in visitations from January through March of 2021, with Yellowstone seeing 107,846 visitors in the first quarter (up 20.7% compared to last year) and Grand Teton seeing 194,447 visitors (up 22.8% compared to last year).

“Visitation figures for both national parks were the highest recorded for the first quarter in history,” the report said, noting that this was attributed to people wanting to spend time outdoors during the pandemic, while coronavirus cases also trended downward.

According to a National Park Service report, more than 3.8 million people visited Yellowstone National Park last year and spent more than $444 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 6,110 jobs in the area near Yellowstone, which had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $560 million.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Weather, Geyser Experts Say Prediction Old Faithful Will Dry Up Is Unlikely

in Yellowstone/News
12046

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Recent extreme weather — along with alarming projections by some scientists — have some people wondering about the future of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

But don’t worry overly about the future of the park’s most iconic landmark — experts in the weather and geysers say the threat is small. 

Searing hot temperatures in the West have raised questions about the regularity of Old Faithful.

An assessment of the climate in the Greater Yellowstone Area released in June inferred that by the year 2100, Old Faithful could go dry. 

Bryan Shuman, a geology professor at the University of Wyoming, said research conducted by the park, the University of Montana, the UW and others indicates that the average snowfall in the Yellowstone area has decreased by 2 inches per year since 1950 and in that same time period, the average temperature has increased by 2 degrees.

The report also predicted a worst-case scenario of a 10-degree average temperature increase in the area by 2100.

Another report released in October found that a severe drought in the 13th century that lasted dozens of years reduced the amount of water sinking into the ground to supply the geyser, causing it to dry up. 

Some researchers believe that if the climate assessment’s worst-case scenario occurs, Old Faithful could dry up again.

But an expert on the Yellowstone waterworks disagrees. 

Bob Smith is a distinguished professor emeritus of geology and geophysics through the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who has studied the geology of Yellowstone since the mid-1950s.

Smith said it would take hundreds of years of drought to alter Old Faithful’s water supply.

“In the extreme case, you could argue that it could in fact die off. But this takes hundreds of years, thousands of years,” Smith said. “In one of these extreme long periods of drought, that could certainly change the level of Old Faithful.” 

But that possibility assumes the worst-case scenario outlined in the climate assessment.

The scenario was one of four future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, known as Representative Concentration Pathways included in the climate assessment.

But the projected 10-degree increase in temperatures is unlikely, according to meteorologist Don Day.

The projection is an extreme vision, Day said, which doesn’t take into account steps already being taken by world leaders to mitigate carbon emissions.

“People need to understand that these are projections, and understand that there is more than just one scenario of how the Earth’s temperatures are going to change over the next 100 years,” he said.

Day emphasized that the rising temperatures that have been experienced recently aren’t necessarily cataclysmic, noting the term “record high” doesn’t mean all that much in terms of global history.

“Remember, we do not have long historical weather records in this country — really, the world doesn’t in terms of calibrated thermometers and people measuring things,” he said. “Wyoming’s a great example. We may, in a few locations in Wyoming, have 100 years of data. And we don’t know, in that 100 years of data, if that thermometer was placed correctly, if it was done correctly to get the most scientific accurate reading.”

Day also explained that from a historical perspective, the Earth has been slowly warming for the last 11,000 years.

“We are in an interglacial period of history,” he said. “The last glacial period was about 11,000 or 12,000 years ago, and the Earth’s been getting warmer for the last 11,000 years. From an Earth cycle standpoint we should all be thanking our lucky stars we’re in an interglacial time, because Wyoming 12,000 years ago was a very harsh, cold environment. Nothing like nothing like it is now.”

Smith pointed out that surface temperature has very little to do with the underground waterworks of Yellowstone, which are more complex than most people realize.

“A lot of people think that this reservoir is just 100% hot water,” Smith said. “But it’s not – it’s highly fractured rock, and the hydrothermal system reservoir Old Faithful covers, it covers all the way from the Old Faithful Inn up to a kilometer in diameter. So there’s this volume of highly fractured wet rock and hot water and steam that’s a kilometer wide, and it’s only a few hundred meters deep. 

“And so this body of hot water and steam gets replenished, rather continuously, and essentially it exceeds itself every 90 minutes,” he continued. “And every 90 minutes, the tea pot goes off. And while you can stop the heat in a teapot by taking it off the stove, you can’t take Old Faithful’s reservoir off of the stove, right? It’s going to be continuously replenished. And the timing is simply the amount of how long it takes to refill this highly fractured rock.”

Which means that rising air temperatures only have a small effect on a thermal feature like Old Faithful.

“One of the issues is, the surface meteorology only extends this effect down to about 10 to 15 feet,” Smith notes. “That winter-summer temperature change has a very, very shallow effect, it’s a skin effect. So beneath that you’re dealing with the actual magmatic system and the hydrothermal reservoir. So the surface air has little or nothing to do with the periodicity or the effects of Old Faithful.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Man Gets Drunk, Leads Yellowstone Park Rangers On 100mph+ Chase

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11971

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who led Yellowstone National Park rangers this week on a chase with speeds of more than 100 mph could face multiple years in prison or hefty fines.

Roderick B. Tillman Jr. has been charged with nine misdemeanor counts, including driving under the influence, fleeing a police officer and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Tillman made an appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, where he was advised of the charges against him.

According to court documents, officers were alerted to a collision between two vehicles near Yellowstone’s southern entry gate Monday morning. The reporting party said one of the drivers, later identified as Tillman, was belligerent and was suspected to be intoxicated.

The reporting woman also said Tillman was throwing “stuff” at her husband. Tillman reportedly left the scene in a red vehicle, traveling toward Grant Village inside the park.

An officer located Tillman’s vehicle and attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but Tillman did not pull over. At one point, Tillman had to stop the vehicle due to traffic and officers commanded him to leave his car, even using a gun convince him to do so.

He refused and fled the scene again.

Tillman began to drive more than 100 mph in a 45 mph speed zone in the park. He frequently drove in the opposing lane of traffic with vehicles coming toward him — some even had to swerve off the road to avoid hitting him — and made erratic passing maneuvers with no use of turn signals, said an affidavit filed in the case.

He also would suddenly accelerate or brake, creating a dangerous and unpredictable environment.

After turning his vehicle around at one point to avoid apprehension, Tillman turned down the Mesa Pit Road, a gravel road with a “do not enter” sign posted near it. He lost control of his car and slid down a steep sandy hill.

A ranger told Tillman to exit his vehicle, but he didn’t comply. His speech was slurred and his responses were incoherent as he made references to items including the ranger’s ancestors, rape and Christopher Columbus and making comments such as “You did this to me” and “I’m drunk.”

In his vehicle, officers found two empty alcohol containers and a pill bottle.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone’s Steamboat Geyser, Largest Geyser In World, Goes Dormant

in Yellowstone/News
11964

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Tom Ninnemann, Cowboy State Daily

Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest active geyser, has gone dormant in the last month after erupting semi-regularly for the past two years.

According to a website tracking each eruption, the last time Steamboat erupted was May 31, when it spewed water into the air for an impressive 10 minutes. 

The most recent previous previous eruption had been 26 days prior to that. 

Michael Poland, scientist in charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, said the change in the geyser’s activity was expected.

“This is the sort of thing that is expected — Steamboat goes through periods of elevated activity and then returns to periods of less activity, so we knew the current show would eventually end,” he said.

Poland said he is uncertain whether the availability of water is the primary or a secondary reason for the recent lack of eruptions. 

“Recent research suggests that Old Faithful even turned off for about 150 years during a period 650-800 years ago when there was a major regional drought,” he said. “So I suspect that might play a role.”  

If Streamboat does go to sleep, Poland said it will offer the opportunity to study what goes on in a geyser during its dormant period.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone, Grand Teton Officially Have Busiest First Quarter Ever

in Yellowstone/News/Recreation
11905

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The claims that both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are seeing more visitors than ever before this summer have been confirmed by a state report.

A report on the economic indicators for the first quarter of 2021 issued by the Wyoming Departmetn of Administration and Information shows tourism numbers have skyrocketed in the state this year compared to 2020.

Both parks saw more than a 20% increase in visitations through March of 2021, with Yellowstone seeing 107,846 visitors in the first quarter (up 20.7% compared to last year) and Grand Teton seeing 194,447 visitors (up 22.8% compared to last year).

“Visitation figures for both national parks were the highest recorded for the first quarter in history,” the report said, noting that this was attributed to people wanting to spend time outdoors during the pandemic, while coronavirus cases also trended downward.

Lodging sales in Teton County were up 27.9% compared to last year and up 16.4% for the state as a whole.

According to a National Park Service report, more than 3.8 million people visited Yellowstone National Park last year and spent more than $444 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 6,110 jobs in the area near Yellowstone, which had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $560 million.

Overall, about 7.1 million people visited all the national parks in Wyoming in 2020, spending an estimated $859 million in “gateway” regions, communities within 60 miles of a national park.

This spending supported a total of 11,300 jobs, generating $333 million in labor income $604 million in “value added” — the difference between the production cost of an item and its sale price — and $1 billion in economic output in the Wyoming economy.

The majority of these jobs were divided among restaurants, lodging and “secondary effect” businesses.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Raccoon-Hat-Wearing Maine Man Banned From Yellowstone For Trespassing Onto Old Faithful

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11855

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Maine man who last year approached Old Faithful Geyser while wearing a raccoon skin hat and waving an American flag has been banned from Yellowstone National Park as part of his sentence on a guilty plea to charges stemming from the incident.

Aaron E. Merritt, 38, pleaded guilty to trespassing on the Old Faithful Thermal area in the park last summer. He was arraigned and sentenced on Thursday to 15 days in jail, with credit for four days served. He was also fined $230 in court costs and a $10 special assessment fee.

Merritt was also banned from the park, although it wasn’t clear if it was a lifetime ban. He was also sentenced to 15 days imprisonment with credit for four days served.

On July 7, 2020, while wearing a raccoon skin hat and waving an American flag, Merritt ran out onto the thermal area and up to the geyser at Old Faithful more than once. The thermal area surrounding the geyser is off-limits to visitors.

Merritt then failed to appear for his court hearing on July 23, 2020, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He was arrested on June 5 in Maine and made his appearance at the Yellowstone Justice Center.

“Yellowstone National Park has rules and regulations in place to protect park resources and help keep visitors safe,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “This case ended with federal charges and time in prison, but it could have been much worse. If Mr. Merrick had fallen through the thermal feature, he would have most likely lost his life.” 

Merritt is the second person to be banned from the park this week, joining an Indiana man who fought park rangers and security guards earlier this month while intoxicated. That man was banned from the park for five years.

According to a previous Cowboy State Daily story, Merritt is not the only person to face park justice recently. Jake Adams, a comedian who thought he could increase his social media following by hitting a golf ball in all 50 states, is now under investigation for hitting one near Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Trailer Drops For New Season of ‘Yellowstone’ Series

in Yellowstone/News
11829

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The trailer for the latest season of the television drama “Yellowstone” starring Kevin Costner debuted this week.

The trailer’s release appears to be very speedy, since filming for the series was going on just one month ago in Montana, as producers were looking for extras. However, there was no date given in the trailer as to when the new season will premiere.

“Yellowstone” was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, both of whom have long histories in the modern western genre, such as “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water” for Sheridan, and “Sons of Anarchy” for Linson.

A “Yellowstone” prequel is also slated to premiere on Paramount+ sometime this year, although no date has been set for its premiere.

“Y: 1883” will follow the Dutton family as it journeys west through the Great Plains “toward the last bastion of untamed America,” according to a series description provided by Deadline.

“It is a stark retelling of Western expansion, and an intense study of one family fleeing poverty to seek a better future in America’s promised land — Montana,” the description said.

No further information has been provided about the new series since the teaser dropped back in February.

The current “Yellowstone” series follows the Dutton family, led by Costner’s John Dutton, as it runs the largest contiguous ranch in the United States and its dealings with bordering Native Indian reservations and national parks.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Drunken Man Who Attacked Yellowstone Rangers Pleads Guilty, Banned From Park For 5 Years

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11799

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who drunkenly fought park rangers and security guards in Yellowstone National Park earlier this month pleaded guilty to his offenses this week in U.S. District Court.

Kyle F. Campbell, 31, of Fairmont, Indiana pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from an incident in the park on June 21. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a five-year term of unsupervised probation and banned from Yellowstone for five years.

He was also ordered to pay $1,550 in fines and a $50 special assessment fee.

Campbell pleaded guilty to several criminal charges: disorderly conduct; threatening, resisting, and intentionally interfering with a government employee; violating the lawful order of a government employee; being under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree that may endanger oneself or others; and contempt of court for refusing to comply with Magistrate Judge Mark Carman’s warrant to collect a blood sample.

“We understand that people are eager to get out this summer and enjoy our national parks; however, this type of behavior is unacceptable. Thanks to the quick actions taken by park rangers and the park vendor’s security officers, no one was seriously harmed,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Stay sober, because unruly and intoxicated behavior will only earn you a spot with the jailbirds rather than enjoying the beauty and adventure of Yellowstone.”  

According to court documents, around 5:45 p.m. on June 21, a Yellowstone ranger received a report of disorderly conduct occurring at the Grant Marina. Four people had been denied access to their kayak tour by their tour guide because of intoxication.

Campbell, who was part of the group, allegedly became agitated and hostile, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, yelling at the tour guide and making threats.

The group left the scene in a silver minivan towing a trailer. Law enforcement began looking for the group within the park.

A few minutes later, there was a report an incident at the Grant Helispot between Campbell (dressed only in sweatpants and socks) and a security guard. The location of the incident was in an employee RV court in an area clearly marked for employees only.

When a ranger arrived, Campbell put his hands into the air, claiming he did nothing wrong and the security guard was lying. He also kept making threatening gestures toward the security guard, which caused the ranger to detain him, the affidavit said.

Campbell continued to repeat he did nothing wrong, and the ranger noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the man. Campbell confirmed he had been drinking that day and only could say he “had a lot.”

The security guard said he had seen Campbell driving the silver minivan without the trailer. When he told Campbell to drive slower in the area, Campbell flipped him off.

As they kept talking, Campbell got increasingly agitated, getting within a foot of the security guard and making comments about assaulting him, the affidavit said.

Campbell also refused to comply with the ranger’s requests to stay put and stop moving while the security guard was being interviewed. He was then placed inside the ranger’s vehicle.

While the ranger asked the security guard if Campbell could have been driving under the influence, Campbell began to bang his head against the law enforcement vehicle. He was told to stop, which he did momentarily, but then resumed.

After being removed from the car and placed on the ground, Campbell began to refer to the ranger and security guard using racist and homophobic slurs, according to the affidavit.

Campbell attempted to scoot and roll toward the security guard, and the ranger ultimately placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a search of the silver minivan, officers found empty alcohol and marijuana containers.

He also banged his head against the pavement, injuring his nose and causing it to bleed. He continued to resist detainment and paramedics taking him to the hospital in Livingston, Montana, ultimately leading to him being sedated.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

New Documentary Discusses How People Have Boiled Or Burned To Death in Yellowstone’s Hot Springs

in Yellowstone/News
11725

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A new short documentary on YouTube details the horrors of Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs with three example cases.

Fascinating Horror, a YouTube channel with more than one-half million subscribers, posted the 11-minute video about the park’s hot springs last week.

The video demonstrates how easily people can be injured or killed by the hot springs.

“A simple slip or trip, usually of no consequence whatsoever, can be the cause of death if it happens in the wrong place,” the narrator said in the video.

He told of one man, a pastor named Gilbert Eakins, who died after falling into a thermal pool while walking near the West Thumb area in the park with his family in August 1926.

“At some point, Eakins slipped, falling into a pool,” the narrator said. “In his rush to extricate himself from the boiling water, which at this point had only burned the lower half of his body, he accidentally fell into another hot pool before finally slipping and falling headlong into the first one again,” the narrator said.

Eakins not only was burned all over his body, but inside in as well, since he had swallowed boiling water from the pools. While a nearby doctor tried to save the pastor, he died while being transported from the park.

Another incident in 1981 saw a man jump into a thermal pool in order to save his dog, but his efforts were in vain and both died.

The final incident involved a group of park employees who were burned in a thermal pool after they fell into it from a dirt ledge that gave way under their feet in 2000. Two of the three employees were injured, one died from burns.

“There are just some of the thermal injuries that have been recorded in Yellowstone’s long history,” the narrator said. “Yellowstone is a wilderness, one only slightly tamed. To make Yellowstone completely safe would be to make it no longer wild.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top