Time at Yellowstone Photographs By Daniel and Mary Seurer

Yellowstone, one of the premier National Parks in the United States, is a wonderland of text book examples of geology. It is difficult to imagine the destructive force that shaped, and continues to shape this region of northwest Wyoming and nearby states. Yellowstone owes its existence to a series of volcanic events. These massive eruptions did not occur in some obscure past when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Instead, all of the volcanic activity we see today was all formed when our human ancestors were evolving on the opposite side of earth. The series of super-eruptions that occurred here, undoubtedly had considerable impact on the earths climate, which in turn, might have had some indirect effect on our evolution as a species.

Hot Steam, not cold fog. Grand Prismatic Spring

So as I walked through the geyser field, volcanic deposits, and majestic waters falls, I tried to put into context the stages of the eruptions with where we humans and pre-humans were in our evolutionary process.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The first major eruption of the Yellowstone volcano systems occurred roughly 2.1 million years ago. This was the largest super-eruption known to have occurred at Yellowstone. Homo habilis was living in Africa at this time, and stone tools of the Oldwan traditon where being regularly used. Lucy, the famous Australiopithecus individual had died nearly 1 million years earlier.

Heart Spring, Old Faithful Geyser Basin ,
Travertine Deposits, Mammoth Springs
Old Travertine Deposits, Mammoth Springs
Mammoth Springs
Volcanic Deposits exposed at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The second, and smallest of the super eruptions took place around 1.3 million years ago. Homo erectus, our first truly hunter and gatherer ancestor, was the first to leave Africa. Evidence for he first use of fire by our human ancestors is reported for this period.

Thermal Springs at Artist's Paint Pot
Upper Falls. Yellowstone River.

The third, and final, super-eruption occurred at Yellowstone around 640,000 years ago.:Homo hiedelbergensis, with a brain capacity near that of modern humans, was roaming through Africa and Europe. The first purpose-build structures have been identified from archeological sites in Japan near this point in time.

Hot Spring, Yellowstone Geyser Basin

174,000 years ago the last significant eruption occurred in the West Thumb region of Yellowstone. This eruption is not considered a super-eruption. The caldera formed by this eruption is located near the shores of Yellowstone Lake.. Our species, Homo Sapiens, appeared.on the scene.

Old Faithful Geyser Basin

The final eruption in Yellowstone took place about 70,000 years ago. Like the previous eruption, this event is not considered a super-eruption. It was a relatively small scale lava flow event. Humans were developing rapidly at this time. The dead were ritually buried, and hide clothing was extensively made. In a few thousand years Homo sapiens migrated to present day Australia.i

Anemone Geyser, Old Faithful Geyser Basin
Over Easy. Mud Pots, Mammoth Springs

Thank you for viewing these photographs. To view more of my work, please visit my website at Daniel.seurer.com. Or contact me via email at Daniel.seurer@me.com

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