The Yellowstone National Park ecosystem is a product of dynamic earth system processes, which have been of interest to scientists and the public since the park's discovery. Here, we outline the history of two successive generations of scientific collaboration in Yellowstone National Park. Early collaboration was spurred by the discovery of an unknown diatom species found in Yellowstone Lake. This prompted the first coring project in 1992 that described the morphological evolution of that species and the paleoenvironmental conditions during which it evolved. About twenty years later, the group was brought together again, with the addition of early career scientists, for a coring project focused on hydrothermal activity in the Yellowstone Lake basin. We discuss the ongoing research and analyses of core material, and conclude with the benefits of working in multigenerational interdisciplinary research groups.
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Fast-forward nearly 20 years to when Whit-lock, now at Montana State University (MSU), and Fritz, now at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), were invited to be part of a large collaborative research effort to investigate the hydrothermal systems of Yellowstone Lake. The new investigation, Hydrothermal Dynamics of Yellowstone Lake (HD-YLAKE), is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Rob Sohn of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. HD-YLAKE involves researchers from the U.S. and abroad to study the Yellowstone Lake hydrothermal system using a variety of approaches. It brings together geophysicists, geochemists, microbiologists, volcanologists, and paleoecologists to better understand the factors controlling continental hydrothermal activity across a range of temporal scales. The research now underway includes studies of modern vent fluxes, geochemistry and microbiology, associated changes in local seismicity, and recent hydrology. It also includes a paleoecological component that focuses on the record of past hydrothermal explosions, including an examination of their possible climate or hydrologic triggers, as well as their ecological consequences. A suite of sediment cores was collected in Fall 2016 with a new LRC Kullenberg rig at sites both within and outside subaqueous hydrothermal vents (Figs. 3 and 4). Major questions in this area of the paleoecological research are: What has been the climate and hydrological variability during the Holocene, and in what ways do climate and hydrology (such as changes in lake level) affect the hydrothermal system? What is the ecological response to past hydrothermal events both in the lake and in the watershed? To answer these questions, Whitlock and Fritz are collaborating with U.S. Geological Survey geologists Lisa Morgan and Pat Shanks as well as scientists from the LRC and the University of Lund in Sweden.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 9107278, 1514814, 1515353, 1516361, and 1625040, and by the Swedish Research Council to DJC. Yellowstone National Park research described in this article was permitted under YELL-2016-SCI-7018 and YELL-2017-SCI-7084. Mike Baker, Chris Linder, Lisa Morgan, Ryan O’Grady, W.C. Pat Shanks III, Mark Shapley, and Rob Sohn participated in Yellowstone Lake Kullenberg coring September 2016. Virginia Iglesias, Jonas Mulder-Rosi, and Matthew Weingart participated in Cub Creek Pond Livingstone coring August 2017. Devin Quick helped process sediment samples for charcoal analysis. The Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services at the University of Texas at Austin digitized slides from the 1992 coring of Yellowstone Lake.
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