Windows Into Wonderland banner with NPS arrowhead
Page 35 of 50

The hot water additions into the Firehole River also bring more unusual bacteria into the picture—thermophiles! These microorganisms thrive in the extreme temperatures of hydrothermal features. Some are carried away from their natural environments with the hot runoff into the river. Although they can’t grow or thrive in their new colder home, they drift downstream and are very useful indicators of the extent of the thermal additions.

I thought that’s what thermometers are for.

Ah, but now we know that some types of thermophilic bacteria are widespread outside of Yellowstone in such things as water heaters or steam condensate lines. These “bio-indicators” are particularly useful because they allow scientists to observe two different types of human-caused thermal pollution: that which is caused by large amounts of warm water and that which is caused by small amounts of very hot water.

Back || Next

back button next button
Cast of characters - Maya Crowbes, Dr. A Beadle, Gray Fischer, Viola DeRama
home button
Q: What are thermophiles?

GLOSSARY: thermophile(s)—microorganisms that thrive in extremely hot conditions

condensate—a product of condensation. Condensation is when a gas or vapor is reduced to a liquid or solid form.

bio-indicator(s)—a living creature whose presence indicates the existence of certain environmental conditions