Caldera chronicle: A geological excursion between Tower and Canyon junctions in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Michael Poland, geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

The road over Dunraven Pass between Tower and Canyon Junctions, in the northeast part of Yellowstone National Park, exposes an outstanding sequence of geological history, much of which significantly predates recent Yellowstone volcanism. Construction work closed the road during the summers of 2020 and 2021, but the route is scheduled to open to park visitors on May 27. The occasion provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover some of the most diverse geology and outstanding vistas in all of Yellowstone National Park. Let’s have a look, traveling south from Tower Junction to Canyon Junction.

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The geology of the eastern portion of Yellowstone National Park, outside the boundaries on Yellowstone Caldera, is dominated by the Absarokas—a volcanic range that was active from about 53 to 43 million years ago. In contrast to the giant Yellowstone caldera now filled with hummocky hills of rhyolite lava flows, the Absaroka Range back then might have looked

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