Surviving on a super volcano
Despite the risks of living on a volcano, there are some surprising benefits to setting up home in a geothermal area
As well as its iconic wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is also famous for sitting on top of the world’s largest super volcano. This is the reason for the huge number of geothermal features across the park, including large areas of hot springs and over half of the world’s geysers. Although the volcano itself hasn’t had a full-scale eruption for 640,000 years, it is predicted that any future eruptions could cause devastation to wildlife globally. Sitting on the North American tectonic plate also means that the park experiences regular earthquakes, often over 2,000 a year.
Despite the dangers, there are also some advantages for wildlife living in a geothermic area. The steam and underground heat from hot springs and geysers increases local air and soil temperatures, which means the surrounding areas often have more vegetation growth. The warm ground also means less snow in winter, so large mammals are often attracted to these areas in harsh weather conditions. Some invertebrates, such as species of damselflies and caddisflies, also particularly enjoy life in the warm rivers. Even the hottest acid pools are filled with life, with their exotic colours caused by thermo acidophilic bacteria thriving in temperatures that can exceed 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit).