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Yellowstone National Park is home to a supervolcano, a volcano capable of ejecting more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material. 
The Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted about 640,000 years ago. When it did, it left behind a caldera, a landform created by the inward collapse of a volcano's peak.
This simple map outlines the extent of the Yellowstone Caldera, as well as some basic physical features of the region. Study the map and the scale bar (which provides information on relative distance) to answer the questions in the "Questions" tab.
Instructional Ideas
Consult National Geography Standard 1.4 (4th grade)How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information. The interpretation of geographic representations.
Discuss how geospatial information is communicated. Methods might include:
• a review of DOGSTAILS, or the elements of a good map, discussed in “Extending the Learning” in our activity “Important Places.”
• the use of color in maps
• identifying geographic features, such as lakes and mountains, in maps
• estimating distance using a map's scale bar
  1. What does the blue on this map represent?

    • Answer

      Blue patches represent lakes, rivers, and streams. The only identified river is the Yellowstone River. The only identified lake is Yellowstone Lake.

  2. What do the brown and green areas on this map represent?

    • Answer

      Brown areas, usually with long lines, are mountains. Green areas are valleys.

  3. How many states are represented on this map?

    • Answer

      There are three states represented on this map—Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.

  4. What feature is the far northern tip of the Yellowstone Caldera?

    • Answer

      Mt. Washburn, Wyoming, is the northernmost tip of the caldera.

  5. At its widest, approximately how wide is the Yellowstone Caldera?

    • Answer

      From the edge of the caldera to east of Lake Butte, the width of the caldera is about 65 kilometers (40 miles).


generally or near an exact figure.


large depression resulting from the collapse of the center of a volcano.


body of water surrounded by land.


symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.


landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

national park

geographic area protected by the national government of a country.


large stream of flowing fresh water.


political unit in a nation, such as the United States, Mexico, or Australia.


body of flowing water.


volcano capable of ejecting more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material.


depression in the Earth between hills.


an opening in the Earth's crust, through which lava, ash, and gases erupt, and also the cone built by eruptions.