In the 2012 President's Budget Request, the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) is terminated. As a result, all resources, databases, tools, and applications within this web site will be removed on January 15, 2012. For more information, please refer to the NBII Program Termination page.
In addition to its biotic attributes (wildlife, vegetation), the Greater Yellowstone region is widely recognized for its abiotic features (mountains, geothermal). Geological research addresses glaciation, volcanism, faulting, uplift and other processes that have shaped the region. In turn, geological studies inform paleoecology, archaeology, fire ecology, and natural resource management.
Some featured publications of geologist Kenneth L. Pierce are now available online:
This report reconstructs the complex sequence of glaciation of the encompassing mountains and the Yellowstone plateau during the last (Pinedale) glaciation, and contrast with the penultimate (Bull Lake) glaciation. Given the Kirk Bryan Award in 1982. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L., 1979, History and dynamics of glaciation in the northern Yellowstone National Park area : U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 729 F, 91 p.
This report documents the progression of the three processes of volcanism, faulting, and uplift that define the Yellowstone the hotspot track, and a mantle plume explanation most compatible with the surface geologic history. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L., and Morgan, L.A., 1992, The track of the Yellowstone hot spot--volcanism, faulting and uplift , in Link, P.K., Kuntz, M.A., and Platt, L.W., eds., Regional geology of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming: Geological Society of America Memoir 179 p. 1-53, 24 figs., 1 color map.
This field guide documents changing interaction of three glacial lobes entering Jackson Hole in the last (Pinedale) glaciation and the much bigger (Bull Lake) glaciation that filled Jackson Hole. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L., and Good, J.D., 1992, Field guide to the Quaternary geology of Jackson Hole, Wyoming : U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 92-504, 49 p.
The Yellowstone hotspot starts with flood basalts and extensive rhyolite eruptions 17-14 Ma considered to indicate a plume head. Implications are explored including: 1) interaction of the plume head with eastward inclined Vancouver slab, 2) decompression melting producing flood basalts through Mesozoic oceanic crust but rhyolite by melting of silicic crust, 3) plume-head association with Basin and Range uplift and extension, and 4) plume head uplift followed by subsidence as the plume tail and associated uplift migrate northeastward to Yellowstone. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L., Morgan, L.A., and Saltus, R.W., 2002, Yellowstone plume head: Postulated tectonic relations to the Vancouver slab, continental boundaries, and climate, in Bill Bonnichsen, C.M. White, and Michael McCurry, editors, Tectonic and Magmatic Evolution of the Snake River Plain Volcanic Province : Idaho Geological Survey Bulletin 30, p. 5-34.
A field guide for a 7 day field trip through the greater Yellowstone area from Bozeman, Montana to Jackson, Wyoming and return. This field guide includes glacial geology, cosmogenic dating, relation between ecology and geology, paleoecology, archeology, fire history and associated sedimentation, and caldera unrest. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L., Despain, D.G., Whitlock, Cathy, Cannon, K.P., Meyer, Grant, Morgan, Lisa, and Licciardi, J.M., 2003, Quaternary geology and ecology of the Greater Yellowstone area , in Easterbrook, D. J., editor, Quaternary Geology of the United States , INQUA 2003 Field Guide Volume, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada, p. 313-344.
A history of heavy breathing of the Yellowstone caldera on a millennial time scale is developed by study of Yellowstone Lake and Yellowstone River level changes through time. This history and negative cumulative overall inflation of caldera support a driving process of buildup and release of pressure associated with geothermal fluids. In press as chapter in USGS Professional Paper. Full Citation: Pierce, K.L, Cannon, K.P., Meyer, G.A. w J. Trebesch, M.J., and Watts, Raymond, 2002, Post-Glacial Inflation-Deflation Cycles, Tilting, and Faulting in the Yellowstone Caldera Based on Yellowstone Lake Shorelines , U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-0142, 62 p.
Dr. Kenneth L. Pierce is an Emeritus Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NRMSC). His research is in the field of Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology; specifically, he studies the geologic processes responsible for the formation of natural landscapes.
For the last several decades, Dr. Pierce has studied the track of the Yellowstone hotspot, Yellowstone caldera unrest, Pleistocene glaciations of the Rocky Mountains, and geologic controls on ecology of the Greater Yellowstone region.
Contact Information: USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center 214 AJM Johnson Hall Montana State University P.O. Box 173492 Bozeman, Montana 59717-3492 Phone: (406) 994-5085 Fax: (406) 994-6556 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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