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NOTE: Portions of this writing were taken directly from Yellowstone's Mammoth Hot Springs Trail Guide. All excepts will be denoted with double-quotes.
Located almost 5 miles south of Yellowstone's North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace was my first 'hotspot' encounter.
"At Mammoth, a network of fractures and fissures form a natural plumbing system that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface. The water comes from rain and snow falling on the surrounding mountains and seeping deep into the earth where it is heated. Small earthquakes may keep the plumbing open."
"Limestone, deposited here millions of years ago when a vast sea covered this area, provides the final ingredient. Hot water with dissolved carbon dioxide makes a solution of weak carbonic acid. As the solution rises through the rock, it dissolves calcium carbonate, the primary mineral in limestone. At the surface, the calcium carbonate is deposited in the form of travertine, the rock that forms the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs."
The first prominent feature, visible from the parking lot, was the 37 foot Liberty Cap.
"Liberty Cap was created by a hot spring that was active and in one location for a long time. Its internal pressure was sufficient to raise the water to a great height, allowing mineral deposits to build slowly and continuously for perhaps hundreds of years. Estimated to be 2500 years old and now dormant, Liberty Cap was named in 1871 by the Hayden Survey because it resembled the peaked knit caps symbolizing freedom and liberty during the French Revolution."
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