Jul 16, 2015

Thermal activity closes drive near Mammoth Hot Springs

A drive outside of Yellowstone National Park's Mammoth Hot Springs has proven to be a hot attraction this summer — too hot, in fact.

Park officials announced Thursday that they have temporarily closed the Upper Terrace Drive to vehicles because of new thermal activity next to and underneath the pavement.

Thermal activity has temporarily closed Upper Terrace Drive to vehicles. Photo courtesy Yellowstone National Park
The thermal feature became visibly active in May near the drive's parking lot, creating some small, new terraces next to the pavement. Geologists and rangers monitoring the area found temperatures up to 152 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We have known this area had heat near the surface based on the fact that it does not hold snow in the winter,” Yellowstone geologist Hank Heasler said in a Thursday news release from the park.

The situation changed this week, however, when rangers noticed more activity around the pavement.

Heasler said personnel drilled two, 20-inch deep holes and both holes “now have hot water bubbling at the surface or very near the surface.”

Maintenance staff are preparing bumper logs to protect the thermal feature and keep the outflow of hot water off the pavement.  Once those are in place, the drive will reopen to vehicles.

In the meantime, visitors can still walk along the Upper Terrace Drive.

“As in all of the thermal areas, visitors need to stay on the boardwalks or paved areas and avoid touching thermal features,” Heasler said in the release.


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