The first geological map of Yellowstone National Park was drawn in 1870s

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.

This geological map of Yellowstone National Park was based on work by William Henry Holmes in 1878 as part of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden’s United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, with topography mapped by Henry Gannett and triangulation by Allen David Wilson. 

USGS

The volcanic character of Yellowstone has long been known. An indigenous map drawn on a bison pelt and indicating a volcano on the Yellowstone River was described by the governor of Louisiana Territory in an 1805 letter to Thomas Jefferson. The first formal geological studies of the region, however, were not undertaken until the 1870s.

In 1871, the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, led by geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, took on the task of conducting a detailed exploration of the region that is now Yellowstone National Park. The exploration provided a preliminary assessment of the geology

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