“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
West Yellowstone in Gallatin County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

Geologists' Dream

Geologists'' Dream Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Martin Schrattenholzer, August 27, 2017
1. Geologists'' Dream Marker
Inscription.  Geologists Irving J. Witkind and Jack Epstein had uncanny timing on the night of August 17, 1959 the two U.S. Geological Survey scientists were camped on a small knoll above Hebgen Lake when their camp trailers began to bounce “like basketballs.” The two emerged to a shuddering landscape and a deafening roar from deep underground.

Witkind and Epstein had spent the summer studying the geologic features of the earthquake-prone land. That night, they had the rare experience of having their academic knowledge come startlingly to life. Today geologists, continue to investigate this region’s seismic dynamics.

(The Center Pictures Caption Reads:)

“We first discovered the fault scarp at night, thank God, there was a full moon the night of the earthquake!”

Jack Epstein visits the fault scarp again in daylight.

Block Faulting
The geologic process by which the Hebgen and Red Canyon blocks dropped and tilted is called block faulting. This area lies at the eastern edge of the Basin and Range province. Here, the earth’s crust is stretching and thinning, causing fault blocks to subside

Geologists' Dream Marker image. Click for full size.
2. Geologists' Dream Marker
One marker with three panels.
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and tilt.

(Caption for Sapphire Pool Photo)

Changes in several of Yellowstone’s geysers after the 1959 earthquake indicate there was some relationship between the the quake and Yellowstone geology. After the earthquake, Sapphire Pool erupted violently with some bursts reaching over 125 feet high.

Did the Yellowstone Hot Spot Contribute?

The Hebgen Earthquake occurred when two blocks of the Earth’s surface-the Red Canyon Block and the Hebgen Block-susided (dropped). Because the quake struck close to Yellowstone, where a large chamber of molten rock (known as the “Yellowstone hot spot”) lies just a short distance below the ground’s surface, one might assume a connection. 640,000 years ago a colossal volcanic eruption created a caldera that encompasses most of the park. Ever since then, parts of the caldera have been rising and falling, causing tremors and faulting in the rocks above. However, there is no evidence that the quake of 1959 was directly cause by the dynamics of the hot spot.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersEnvironmentScience & Medicine. A significant historical date for this entry is August 17, 1959.
Location. 44° 48.238′ N, 111° 11.285′ W. Marker is in West Yellowstone, Montana, in Gallatin County. Marker is on U.S. 287, 4 miles west of U.S.

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191, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: West Yellowstone MT 59758, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Earthquake Lake Geologic Area (here, next to this marker); The Night’s Peace Was Shattered (here, next to this marker); Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake (approx. one mile away); Sleep Interrupted (approx. 7.4 miles away); The Lake that Tilted (approx. 7.6 miles away); Something is terribly wrong (approx. 7.6 miles away); A Leap Just in Time (approx. 7.7 miles away); The Night the Earth Cracked (approx. 8.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in West Yellowstone.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 29, 2018. It was originally submitted on February 4, 2018, by Martin Schrattenholzer of Renton, Washington. This page has been viewed 254 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on February 4, 2018, by Martin Schrattenholzer of Renton, Washington.   2. submitted on May 29, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. photo of the marker in its surroundings • Can you help?

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Apr. 1, 2023