Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - Canyon View
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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - Valley View
The colors in the canyon are a result of hydrothermal changes. The rhyolite in the canyon contains a variety of different iron compounds. When the old geyser basin was active, the "cooking" of the rock caused chemical alterations in these iron compounds. Exposure to the elements caused the rocks to change colors. The rocks are oxidizing; in effect, the canyon is rusting. The colors indicate the presence or absence of water in the individual iron compounds. Most of the yellows in the canyon are the result of iron present in the rock rather than, as many people think, sulfur.