Researchers have released new images which reveal, what decades of tourism in the Yellowstone National Park has done to their hot springs. The visitors have contaminated the hot spring water by throwing coins and garbage. The water color in the spring has become orangey green, which according to researchers should be deep blue. The scientists have used a one dimensional model where they used SLR digital camera, low-wave thermal imaging camera and a handheld spectrometer. According to this new study the color change was triggered by the ‘microbial mat composition’ found in those spring. The scientists also said that the coin and garbage thrown by humans along with natural debris is responsible for the change of color.
One of the co-author of this research, Joseph Shaw a professor at Montana State University and director of the university’s Optical Technology Center said, “What we were able to show is that you really don’t have to get terribly complex – you can explain some very beautiful things with relatively simple models”. He along with his PHD student Paul Nugent and German Colleague Michael Vollmer then added, “As a result of coins, trash, and rocks thrown into the pool over time, the vent has become partially blocked, leading to a lower temperature and altered color pattern”. Different microbes made different color in the pool, because of their preference of different temperature. Shaw and Nugent said “The pool center — though presumably covered by the yellow mat — appears deep blue, indicating that the pool is deep enough that backward-scattered sunlight from the water is the dominant component of upwelling light,”
The researchers built their model according to the shape and depth, temperature and angle of observation for each pool. In 1871 when the Hayden Geological Survey team led by Ferdinand Vandeever explored the National Park, the pool was much bluer. Hayden said in a statement, “nothing ever conceived by human art could equal the peculiar vividness and delicacy of color of these remarkable prismatic springs.”
The original color of the spring was reconstructed by a mathematical model used by a team of researchers from the Montana State University and the University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Applied Optics journal who publishes the paper consists of engineers, scientists and businessman, who provide valued data and exciting collaboration in the area of optics and photonics.