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Audio Transcript

Ranger/Naturalist Sally Plumb talks to Institute participants about the geology of Yellowstone

Ranger Plumb: "Today we are going to talk about how those ingredients come together and although Mammoth is the place where you literally see rocks swimming before your eyes because of how fast the travertine deposits here— travertine is what all this area is made of.

It takes millions of years for the ingredients to come together and again an example I use for the kids— this is more effective with the older kids anywhere from 5th grade on up— is that I put all of human history into a— I put all of earth history into a single human calendar year.

And so if you equate that earth comes to being on New Year's Day— it’s about the beginning of July before there is oxygen in the atmosphere. About Thanksgiving time is when the first fish appear on the earth. The age of dinosaurs in our imaginary calendar year is about December 10th until Christmas time. The Rocky Mountain is forming Christmas Eve— and if you fast-forward to the very last day in that imaginary calendar year December 31 about 9:45 at night is when Yellowstone begins to form. So Yellowstone is very young geologically speaking.

Again on December 31st about three seconds before midnight Columbus sails for the New World. And people well people of our age come into being about two tenths of a second before midnight on December 31st. And so again for the little bit older aged kids they go like ooooo then they can say you are really really young geologically speaking. And when I talk in terms of these millions of years just keep in mind that Yellowstone as we know it is very young geologically speaking."

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