Yellowstone National Park in Park County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
Can you imagine living in a geyser? Thermophiles – microorganisms that thrive in heat –are perfectly adapted to living in geysers and their runoff channels. Some live where temperatures are hottest, while others reside in cooler areas. As you look at the colors in and around Whirligig Geyser, you are looking at a “living thermometer.”
At 122 - 140° F (50 - 60° C), Whirligig’s runoff channel is hot enough to burn you. Thermophiles living here use iron for energy from Whirligig’s iron-rich water, and become coated with rust. These chemical-users are called “chemotrophs.”
Thermophilic algae, including Cyanidium, inhabit the green channel. Like plants, these tiny single-celled organisms photosynthesize, or use sunlight for energy. These “phototrophs” live where temperatures range from 100 - 133° F (38 - 56° C).
• Norris Geyser Basin is highly acidic. Amazingly, thermophiles living here thrive on heat and acid.
• Thermophiles are too small to see without a microscope, but their vast communities are clearly visible.
• The number of thermophiles living beneath a ten-inch square may exceed the number of people on Earth!
Did You Know?
• Scientists study these thermophiles to learn how life has adapted to iron-rich,
• Mineral deposits here record one of Earth’s most extreme habitats. Scientists use this record to aid their search for similar deposits and possible life on Mars.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 44° 43.719′ N, 110° 42.198′ W. Marker is in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in Park County. Marker can be reached from Grand Loop Road. Touch for map. Marker is located in the Porcelain Basin at the Norris Geyser Basin. Marker is in this post office area: Yellowstone National Park WY 82190, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fumaroles (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Solfatara (about 600 feet away); Norris Geyser Basin (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Norris Geyser Basin (about 600 feet away); Porcelain Springs (about 700 feet away); The National Park System (approx. 0.2 miles away); Yellowstone National Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Norris Geyser Basin (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yellowstone National Park.
More about this marker. A photo at the left of the marker shows thermophiles of varying colors.
Categories. • Animals • Science & Medicine •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 10, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 146 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 10, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.