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Road melts at Yellowstone National Park

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Yellowstone sits on top of one of the world's largest volcanoes
  • Extreme heat from the volcano's thermal areas damaged the popular road
  • No volcanic eruption is expected for 1,000 years or more

(CNN) -- The road was melting.

Extreme heat from thermal features at Yellowstone National Park, created by the active volcano below the park, caused oil to bubble on a road surface on July 9 and damage it.

A road in Yellowstone National Park simmers in the heat of underground thermal features.
A road in Yellowstone National Park simmers in the heat of underground thermal features.

Park crews had to close and repair the 3.3-mile loop road that takes visitors past White Dome Geyser, Great Fountain Geyser and Firehole Lake.

Yellowstone National Park was the nation's first national park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. It's predominantly in Wyoming but also touches Idaho and Montana. Check in next week for Arches National Park. Yellowstone National Park was the nation's first national park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. It's predominantly in Wyoming but also touches Idaho and Montana. Check in next week for Arches National Park.
Yellowstone: Our first national park
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Road melts at Yellowstone National Park

Blame it on the Yellowstone Volcano.

Yellowstone National Park -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- sits atop one of the world's largest volcanoes, and some of the thermal spots have damaged the popular Firehole Lake Drive. The park features over 10,000 thermal spots, about half the world's known thermal spots.

Yellowstone: One of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Although the volcano is active -- evidenced by the thermal features and 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes annually -- park officials don't expect a catastrophic eruption anytime in the next 1,000 or even 10,000 years.

Yellowstone's first supervolcanic eruption occurred 2.1 million years ago, and there were other Yellowstone supereruptions 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago.

The park has instruments monitoring the volcano throughout the park, and there would be plenty of warning -- weeks or even months -- if an eruption were going to occur.

In the meantime, enjoy the park! Maintenance crews quickly repaired the road, and it was reopened to visitors Saturday.

Summer in the park at Yellowstone

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