Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center

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Hydrothermal Influx


The addition of thermal water affects the ecology of the Firehole River. Algae and bacteria grow faster and in greater numbers in the warmer sections of the river. The types of microorganisms also vary: diatoms favor the colder waters, while green algae and bacteria grow in the warmer sections.

Large swaths of algae sway in the current of the Firehole River

The hot water additions may also introduce thermophiles- microorganisms that thrive in the extreme temperatures of hydrothermal features-into the river. Although thermophiles can't grow or thrive once they are carried away from their natural environment into colder water, they drift downstream and are useful indicators of the extent of the thermal additions.

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This work is supported by

National Science Foundation    Yellowstone Park Foundation
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