I will miss Yellowstone National Park and the the fun we had in Montana. The last few days went by quickly, and before we knew it we were back in Lexington. The last few days were marked with one major field experiment which used potassium nitrate and ammonium sulfate labeled with the stable isotope 15-N. This experiment was designed to measure nitrification and denitrification in field. We performed the experiment in our Remnant field site and Cinnabar field site, collecting soil cores and injecting them with our labeled salts. We collected a total of 48 samples, 16 at Remnant (8 for each salt) and 32 at Cinnabar (8 for each salt both inside and outside the exclosure). Each set had samples that were brought back to the lab for immediate procedures, and also had samples allowed to incubate in the field for 24 hours. Upon our return to the labge, we extracted each sample with potassium chloride. The following day we returned to the each field site, acquired our incubated tubes, and extracted them with KCL back at the labge. Our plethora of soils was shipped the following morning so that it would hopefully arrive by Monday for class.
On Thursday during our final week, Dr. Hamilton gave a presentation to members of the National Park Service who are working on the restoration project in the Gardiner Basin. Discussion followed the presentation and then we enjoyed a lunch at a new restaurant in town- I believe the name of the place was the cowboy lounge.
We saw most of the parks unique geological features during the final days. We hiked around mammoth hot springs, visited the mud volcanoes, stood on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, pushed Wilson into the Grand Prismatic Spring, and of course, we joined hundred of people to watch Old Faithful erupt. My favorite site was Grand Prismatic Spring, not because we pushed Wilson in, but because of the motley rings formed by extremophilic archaea. Unfortunately, the best place to view these rings is not next to it but above it; nevertheless I did enjoy!
Saturday was spent traveling from Bozeman back to Lexington. We went from a cold, dry desert region to a place where the humidity was palpable. On the ride from Roanoke airport to Lexington we all relaxed listening to the radio show House of Hair. It looked like we would coast up highway 81 without an issue when all of a sudden a mad truck driver started playing slalom with the median. We got away from that truck, ASAP!
Unfortunately on Monday our samples had not arrived, and so we came up with a game plan for the week:
Tuesday- prep samples for assays
Wednesday- Conduct assays, collect data, prepare poster
Thursday- Prepare presentation
It will be a busy week, but well worth it, and we will let everyone know exactly what we did while we were in Yellowstone.