Underwater Exploration at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Lake

Beyond snorkeling and SCUBA diving, most of us have limited ability to explore underwater.  Even given these skills, we are still limited by depth and the amount of time that we can stay under water at one time.  A select few have access to submersible vehicles and can extend this a bit more, but serious underwater exploration requires more.

Exploring Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park is a fascinating, but little explored place.  It’s less than 400 feet deep so it is explorable by well-trained and equipped divers.  It is also dangerous given its underwater geysers that could quickly boil an unsuspecting diver.  That’s why most exploration to date has been done by a robot that was put into service in 1985.  Dave Lovalvo has been working in Yellowstone Lake for many years and he designed and built that robot.

It’s not surprising that there are many hydrothermal vents on the lake bottom.  These vents and their associated biological communities are much like what might be found in deep oceans, thus the interest by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE), not to mention that Dave Lovalvo is the president of the foundation. Beyond the biology,  the scientists exploring Yellowstone Lake hope to discover many new things related to the chemistry, volcanology and geology of the lake and the micro-environments there.

A New Yellowstone Lake Robot


A computer rendition of Yogi.

GFOE is now working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of Minnesota, Montana State University, Yellowstone Association and the National Park Service to develop an underwater robot, named Yogi – after the bear, that will be able to more fully explore the depths of the lake and return with clear video and biological samples.

This project is expensive, so the foundation has started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise $100,000 to support it.  As of today,  the project has received pledges of over 1/3 of the total goal with 23 days left to go on the campaign.  This is a great opportunity for you to support this effort, contribute to a new era of exploration and gain some recognition in the process.  GFOE says a private donor is matching every dollar earned, so the $100,000 online goal will raise a total of $200,000 and essentially fund the entire project.

Exploring Yellowstone Lake – Video [UPDATE]

Check out this video from The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration.  It offers a look at the underwater scenery at Yellowstone Lake and some insight into the scientific work going on at the lake. It is some of the first video from the new YOGI submersible.

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