Ground Zero

A scant five miles below the surface of the earth, a chamber of hot glowing magma sits in anticipation of releasing its simmering power. The Yellowstone volcano will eventually erupt again. It is not a matter of if, but when. I love sitting here watching geysers erupt, reminding us of this fact. The over 10,000 thermal features—geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots—simmer, froth, burble, and spew. It is a vibrant reminder of impermanence.

Sometimes I refer to Yellowstone as “ground zero of impermanence.” You cannot avoid considering change. The Hurricane Ridge eruption here was 2,500 times the size of Mt. St. Helens. Most of the U.S. was covered by a layer of ash and the climate of planet earth changed for quite awhile. We are now experiencing something like that climate change through the eruption of human activity and naturally occurring factors. Maybe we are the ash layer?

This week, hundreds of thousands of young people march to point out the obvious facts of the increasing shift in planetary “norms.” The earth has only so much patience with the status quo. Sitting here in front of Steamboat geyser, I am face to face with a phenomena that erupts with incredible power, sending scalding acidic water over 400 feet into the air, covering cars in the parking lot and eroding their finishes. A sign warning of that possibility is posted.

Steamboat is erupting more often these days. Earth scientists are not sure why other that to say this happens sometimes. One cannot predict with certainty the repeating activity of any thermal feature. Even Old Faithful is predicted within about a twenty minute window, give or take. The wild dance of this unpredictability is driven by the incredible heat of change below and I relish the experience of sitting here as a puny human being. It casts my arrogance in a sulphuric glow. I find it very liberating to surrender my assumptions about anything. It leaves me open to whatever might spew forth without preconceived judgment

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