Chemistry of Hot Springs Class Field Trip

travertine terraces

In September, Nancy Hinman took her Chemistry of Hot Springs class to Yellowstone National Park. Dr. Hinman’s field of research primarily focuses on low temperature geochemistry as well as biotic and abiotic chemical processes, primarily in hydrothermal systems. She has conducted years of extensive research in the Park, along with projects in Russia, New Zealand, and Chile.

Chemistry of Hot Springs Class

Nancy Hinman’s Fall 2016 Chemistry of Hot Springs Class. From left to right: Laura Stevens, Megan Mave, Isabellah von Trapp, Nora Dwyer, and Sara Stotter.

Prior to the field trip, the class was introduced to the geology of the Yellowstone Caldera, as well as the microbiology and geochemistry of its hydrothermal elements. At the Park, they had the opportunity to see a variety of features that were previously discussed in the classroom, including geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, and mud pots. This was a valuable opportunity for the students to supplement their academic knowledge with first-hand experiences.

Chemistry of Hot Springs Class waiting for geyser

While patiently waiting for Echinus Geyser in Norris Geyser Basin to erupt, Sara Stotter (far left) attempts to play Amazing Grace on the harmonica for the class. (After Sara, left to right: Isabellah von Trapp, Megan Mave, Nora Dwyer, and Laura Stevens).

The highlights of the trip involved spending time in the Upper Geyser Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, Lower Geyser Basin, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, at Mud Volcano, and Sulphur Cauldron. Other highlights included getting stuck in a bison jam, story time from the book “Death in Yellowstone”, discussing the advantages and/or disadvantages of silicification vs. calcification, harmonica jam sessions, and dinner time, where the class enjoyed cooking spaghetti and burritos for the group.