Photo Uploaded: Oct 27 2014 19:47:29 GMT Taken: 2014:09:03 11:20:11 Manufacturer: Canon Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T5i Aperture: F18 Shutter: 1/100 sec ISO: 100 Flash: No (Turned off)
(Full size is highly recommended)
With a name like the Grand Prismatic Spring, a natural wonder has a lot to live up to and this huge hot spring in Yellowstone Park is more than up to the task with its vivid rainbow ring of colors.
(The Grand Prismatic is too large to be properly seen from the boardwalk level. I hiked up the "fairy falls" trail about a mile south and west west of the basin, and then climbed about 200 feet up a steep hill. It was a strenuous hike but the magnificent view makes it all worthwhile.)
The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, approximately 250 by 300 feet in size and around 160-feet deep. But it's Grand Prisimatic's rainbow waters that really make it fascinating: While the center of the pool's deep cerulean hue is pretty characteristic, the deep reds, bright yellows and fiery oranges encircling the edges are not. Grand Prismatic Spring’s colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The bacteria produce colors ranging from green to red; the amount of color in the microbial mats depends on the ratio of chlorophyll to carotenoids and on the temperature of the water which favors one bacterium over another. In the summer, the mats tend to be orange and red, whereas in the winter the mats are usually dark green. The center of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat and is too hot to support life.
The deep blue color of the water in the center of the pool results from the intrinsic blue color of water, itself the result of water's selective absorption of red wavelengths of visible light. Though this effect is responsible for making all large bodies of water blue, it is particularly intense in Grand Prismatic Spring because of the high purity and depth of the water in the middle of the spring.
Grand Prismatic sits upon a wide, spreading mound where water flows evenly on all sides forming a series of small, stair-step terraces. The Hayden Expedition in 1871 named this spring because of its beautiful coloration, and artist Thomas Moran made water-color sketches depicting its rainbow-like colors. The sketches seemed exaggerations and geologist A.C. Peale returned in 1878 to verify the colors. The colors begin with a deep blue center followed by pale blue. Green algae forms beyond the shallow edge. Outside the scalloped rim a band of yellow fades into orange. Red then marks the outer border. Steam often shrouds the spring which reflects the brilliant colors. Grand Prismatic discharges an estimated 560 gallons per minute.