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Why is Yellowstone called Yellowstone?

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Brian Campbell. Today's question is ...

Why is Yellowstone called Yellowstone?

Answer:

Contrary to popular belief, Yellowstone was not named for the abundant yellow-colored rhyolite lavas in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone that have been chemically altered by reactions with steam and hot water to create vivid yellow and pink colors. Instead, the name was attributed as early as 1805 to Native Americans who were referring to yellow sandstones along the banks of the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, several hundred miles downstream and northeast of the Park.

And now you know.  Join us again every week for a new CoreFact.  For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to usgs.gov/podcasts.  If you'd like to have a question featured on our show, give us an e-mail at corefacts@usgs.gov or a phone call at 703-648-5600.  Remember, long distance fees do apply.  CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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Title: Why is Yellowstone called Yellowstone?

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Date Recorded: 5/6/2009


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