Lower Geyser Basin encompasses nearly 12 square miles, with most of
the thermal features widely scattered in small groups. Some of the groups
include the Fountain Group, Firehole Lake Group, White Dome Group, Great
Fountain - White Creek Group, and the Imperial
The Lower Geyser Basin possess a large
variety of thermal features, including mud pots, geysers, pools, springs,
and fumaroles. Great Fountain Geyser is one of the grand geysers in
the Lower Geyser Basin. It erupts from a large, terraced platform with
massive bursts exploding up to 150 feet high. White Dome Geyser does
not have spectacular eruptive displays, but it does have one of the
largest pink and white streaked cones in the Park.
The Fountain Group has a large cluster
of multi-colored mud pots, and nearby in Pocket Basin is the largest
collection of mud pots in Yellowstone. The Fountain Group also includes
several spectacular geysers. Fountain, Morning, Clepsydra and Jet geysers
dominate the group with periodic and colorful displays.
QUEEN'S LAUNDRY & SENTINEL MEADOWS
Temp 192°F Dimensions 90x135 feet. Depth 26 feet. Queen's Laundry
is a member of the Sentinel Meadows Group located on Sentinel Creek.
It also called Red Terrace Spring, in reference to the reddish cyanobacteria
terraces. It is a remote blue spring located 1.75 miles west of Fountain
Flat Drive. In 1880 P.W. Norris, while constructing a road across Fountain
Flats, noticed steam rising along Sentinel Creek. The construction crew
discovered the large pool with a drainage channel cool enough for bathing.
They strung up their brightly colored clothing on stumps and branches
and the camp cooks "dubbed it the Laundry, with a variety of prefixes,
of which I deemed the most appropriate adheres, and hence the name."
The following year Norris constructed a two room bath house with a sod
roof. This curious log cabin still remains.
Temperature 202.8»F Dimensions; Cone 20 feet high, Pool 8.5x10 feet.
Depth 30 feet. Sentinel Cone, also called Steep Cone, is a tall
isolated cone rising 20 feet high from the flat sedge meadow. It is
located 1.25 miles from Fountain Flat Drive. Sentinel Meadows and Sentinel
Creek derive their name from this thermal feature named by Frank Bradley
of the 1872 Hayden survey. Three similar cones- Sentinel, Flat and Mound-also
project from the meadow and Bradley stated they "appear so much
as if they were guarding the upper valley." The mound or cone is
built of sinter and void of plant life. Perched at the top of the cone
is a punch-bowl-like alkaline spring encircled by a ring or rim or silica.
The spring is deep, clear and superheated, reaching temperatures above
boiling point, and exhibiting periodic surges.
Temperature 198.5-202°F Dimensions 12x42 feet. Depth 32.5 feet. The Spanish name, 0)0 Caliente, means "hot eye," and refers
to the shape of the spring. It is an isolated, superheated, alkaline
spring located on the northern bank of the Firehole River. Surrounding
the crater is a heavy shelf of sinter, almost concrete-like in appearance
and encrusted with sulfur. On its northern end, Ojo Caliente constantly
boils, rising 12-20 inches high. It has erupted as high as two to three
feet. The hot spring discharges approximately 100 gallons per minute.
POCKET BASIN MUD POTS
Temperature 188-200°F Dimensions area size 1300x700 feet. Pocket
Basin, on the eastern edge of a thermal crater, formed by a hydrothermal
explosion. This steam explosion resulted from overheated ground water
that exploded into steam, leaving a crater-like basin. Pocket Basin
is in an isolated area along the Firehole River a quarter mile east
of Ojo Caliente. It is the largest mud pot concentration in the Park.
Steam works its way through silica-bearing silt, producing bubbling
mud pots in white to light-brownish-gray. This area is very fragile
and delicate. It is an extremely dangerous area and no designated walkways
Temperature 200°F Interval seconds to 2 hours and occasional
dormancy. Duration seconds to 3 minutes. Height 6-80 feet. The geyser became active in 1927. In 1929 a contest among visiting newspaper
men named this popular new thermal feature. The eruptions during that
year were so violent-reaching 80 to 150 feet high- that its plumbing
system may have been damaged creating steam and pressure leakage. The
geyser went into dormancy until 1966 when it began a near constant eruption.
In 1985 Imperial again went into dormancy, but continues to boil and
churn. The 75x100 feet alkaline pool is known for its clear, blue-colored
water. The discharge has been estimated at 500 gallons per minute. In
1988 a wildfire swept through this area and even burned logs, projecting
from the pool, to the water line.
Temperature 199°F Interval 1-5 minutes. Duration 3-10 minutes. Height
10-25 feet. An old and popular small geyser, Spray has had regular
eruptions since its early discovery. It has the same energy source as
Imperial Geyser at the base of South Twin Butte. It is one of the few
geysers that has a longer eruption time (duration) than the interval
between eruptions. When it erupts there are two main jets of water.
The main column jets at a 70° angle and both jets spray with some of
the water dissipating into steam. A lush mat of chocolate-brown-colored
cyanobacteria and algae cover the vent and vicinity.
Temperature 184-196°F Dimensions 27x46.5 feet. Depth 25 feet. Octopus Spring's drainage channels radiate like the arms of an octopus,
hence its name. The spring sits at the base of a glacial moraine in
an isolated location off the road approximately 800 feet up the White
Creek Drainage from Great Fountain Geyser. Only a narrow foot trail
leads to the crystal blue pool. The pool has a thin, scalloped, sinter
sheet o rshelf extending 1 to2feetaround the edge and part way down
the run-off channels. A steady discharge, estimated at 75 to 100 gallons
per minute, feeds the extensive and colorful microbial mats. These microbial
mats have had extensive study, and geometric and grid patterns in the
mats are growth studies and extraction of lamination samples.
GREAT FOUNTAIN GEYSER
Temperature 202°F Interval 8-12 hours. Duration 45-60 minutes. Height
75-150 feet. Great Fountain Geyser is one of the grand geysers of
Yellowstone. It has the distinction of having the first written description
recorded by the 1869 Folsom-Cook Expedition. But it remained unnamed
until the 1872 Hayden Survey. The intricately terraced sinter cone is
150 feet in diameter with a 14x20 foot crater. Eruptions begin about
one hour after the crater fills and the first overflow spills onto the
terraces. The overflow period is longer in spring and fall. A few minutes
before the eruption water violently surges and boils, starting an eruption.
Bursts may reach up to 200 feet, but average 100 feet. The hour-long
eruption has several phases.
WHITE DOME GEYSER
Temperature 188°F Interval 12-24 minutes, Duration 2 minutes, Height
10-30 feet. Named by the 1871 Hayden Expedition, the name is descriptive
of the white-colored deposits found in the area. The sinter cone, built
upon an older hot spring mound, is 20 feet high. It is an older cone
built up by spray. The orifice is now less than four inches in diameter
and continued internal deposits may seal it up. An eruption occurs moments
after splashing begins. The eruption starts with jets of water progressing
into steam and spray. The geyser is temperamental and irregular, but
intervals between eruptions can occur from ten minutes to one and a
PINK CONE GEYSER
Temperature 161°F Interval 6-16 hours and occasional dormancy, Duration 30 minutes to 3 hours. Height 20-35 feet. The Hayden Survey named
this feature for the beautiful shell-pink color of the cone's sinter.
It stands 18 inches high. Manganese and iron oxides are responsible
for the dark color. During the construction of the Firehole Lake road
in the 1930s the mound was cut, and the road now passes within 13 feet
of Pink Cone's crater. It has had periods of dormancy and its regularity
changes too. It erupts with a steady blaster column of water with pauses
and renewed vigor. There is no apparent underground connection with
other thermal features.
Temperature 172°F Interval 25-33 minutes. Duration 2.5 minutes, Height 15-25 feet. Professor T.B. Comstock, geologist
of the 1873 Jones Expedition, named present day Labial Geyser, located
130 feet north, Bead Geyser. Labial Geyser was known for its geyser
eggs, small marble to egg sized sinter beads, which subsequently were
collected by early tourists. However, the present day Bead Geyser is
appropriately named. Its shallow 10x15 foot crater has a beautiful and
intricate beaded surface. Not only does Bead have a beautiful crater,
but it is perhaps the most regular geyser in Yellowstone, with little
variation in its interval and duration. Bead's vent has been probed
to a depth of 7.5 feet below the lip.
Temperature 205°F Interval 2-8 hours. Duration 5-10 minutes. Height
10-15 feet. During the 1880s The Hague Party named Narcissus Geyser
after a Greek myth about a youth who fell in love with the reflection
of his image in a pool. On his death the gods changed his reflection
into a flower called narcissus. This geyser is isolated behind a fringe
of trees 550 feet north of Pink Cone Geyser. Nodules of sinter colored
a soft beige or pink line the six-foot-diameter crater. A clue to a
pending eruption is a slow rise of water in the crater, and it begins
to overflow one hour before an eruption. Splashing triggers jets of
water 15 feet and sometimes 20 feet high. After an eruption the crater
drains and empties the bowl.
Temperature 199°F Interval none. Duration constant. Height 2-15 feet. Named in 1871 by the Hayden Expedition for its constant action. The
name changed to Black Warrior Geyser in the 1920s, but the old name
reverted back in the 1930s. It is the largest constantly erupting geyser
in Yellowstone and the world. Steady Geyser, located on the edge of
a small lake near Hot Lake, has a dark gray-brown mound, colored by
manganese oxide, built in an irregular mass of geyserite. This geyser
has two vents and at times one vent may become dormant while the other
continues to erupt. Steady has no known subterranean connections to
other features in the Firehole Lake Group.
Temperature 193°F Dimensions 35.5x39.4 feet. Depth 27 feet. It
is unknown when or by whom this colorful blue spring was named, but
the name Silex may refer to the word silica. Some believe it may refer
to the Silex coffee percolator. The spring boils occasionally and, periodically
large bubbles of gas rise to the surface. The 1959 earthquake caused
it to erupt and increased the flow. The discharge is now 75 to 100 gallons
per minute. There are underground connections to Celestine Pool, a similar
nearby hot spring.
FOUNTAIN PAINT POT
Temperature 202.8°F Dimensions 80x40 feet. Fountain Paint Pots
was originally named "Mud Puff" by the 1871 Hayden survey
and later turn-of-the-century tourists called it Mammoth Paint Pots.
But guide books referred to the area as Fountain Geyser and Pain pots
and the name was adopted in 1927. The mud is composed of clay and fine
particles of silica broken down by acids and grinding action. The tinting
of the mud in colors of pink and gray from iron oxides is derived from
the original rock. The bubbling action results in escaping steam and
gases - mainly carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. In the spring and
early summer the mud is thin and the pots boil. By late summer and fall
there is less moisture and the mud is thicker, creating unusual shapes
Temperature 199.2°F Interval 1-12 hours and occasional dormancy.
Duration 30-60 minutes. Height 50-75 feet. Lt. G.C. Doane
referred to the pool filled craters as "clear fountains" in
1870, but it was given its official name by the 1871 Hayden Expedition.
Fountain Geyser, located next to Morning Geyser-the largest geyser in
the group, usually has long periods of dormancy of one or more years,
it was very active between 1870 and 1910 when a hotel was built nearby,
but activity declined and in 1929 became dormant until after World War
11. Since the 1959 earthquake the geyser has been irregular, with periods
of dormancy. During Fountain's quiet phase the water is azure blue and
tranquil. About an hour before an eruption a stream of bubbles rises
to the surface. The water begins to boil and churn resulting in an eruption.
Following an eruption the water level drops one to two feet below the
Temperature 197.3°F Interval seconds to 30 minutes. Duration nearly
constant. Height 10-40 feet. Professor T.B. Comstock.a member of
the Army Corps of Engineers Survey, named this geyser in 1873 for its
regularity "like the ancient Greek water clock." Since the
1959 earthquake Clepsydra spouts as a nearly constant geyser, erupting
from four vents. Two types of eruptions characterize Clepsydra. The
constant splash-type eruptions from the highest vents send jets of water
and steam 10-15 feet in all directions for about three minutes. The
more powerful eruptions called "wild phase" activity send
steady jets 20-40 feet from all four vents for three to six hours. Clepsydra
discharges nearly 675 gallons per minute.
Temperature 196.7T Interval 15-90 minutes. Duration seconds to 2
minutes. Height 1-10 feet. Professor Theodore Comstock of the Captain
Jones Party first described this feature in 1873, but its name may be
derived from geologist Walter Weed, who in 1888 described the pool as
"clear-as-glass, green water." He believed algae helped in
the formation of sinter from "algous jelly" to hard sinter.
It has one of the largest craters in the Fountain Group, measuring 16.5x30.6
feet. The craters edge has delicate scalloped sinter. The indication
of an eruption starts when the crater is full. The only warning before
an eruption is a slight boiling progressing into splashing. The eruptions
are small, discharging only 10 to 15 gallons per minute.