P. Langford, a member of the 1870 Washburn Expedition-who named many
of the thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin, later stated; "We
gave such names to those of the geysers which we saw in action as we
think will best illustrate their peculiarities." Those names include
Old Faithful-named for its regular eruptions; Beehive Geyser-with its
bee-hive shaped cone; and Riverside Geyser-named for its location on
the Firehole River.
The Upper Geyser Basin, approximately
two square miles in area, contains the largest concentration and nearly
one-quarter of all of the geysers in the world. A variety of thermal
features exist here: spouting geysers, colorful hot springs, and steaming
The Upper Geyser Basin is the home of
Old Faithful, the most famous and celebrated geyser in the world. The
1870 Washburn Expedition camped near Old Faithful and discovered the
geyser had frequent and regular eruptions over 100 feet. They dubbed
the geyser Old Faithful. It erupts once approximately every 45 to 90
minutes, depending on the duration of the previous eruption. To be able
to predict your own eruption of Old Faithful refer to appendix A on
Temperature 199° Interval 30-120 minutes. Duration 1.5-5 minutes.
Height 110-185 feet. The Washburn Expedition in 1870 named Old Faithful
for its nearly regular schedule of eruptions. It is the grand old geyser
of Yellowstone because of its frequent and predictable eruptions. The
intervals between eruptions average between 45-90 minutes and the average
duration is about four minutes. To predict the next eruption, its first
continuous surge is timed until the final splash. If the total eruption
is less than four minutes, the next eruption will occur in approximately
40-60 minutes. If the eruption is four minutes or longer, the next interval
will be 75-100 minutes.
Temperature 191-202°F Interval 6-16hours. Duration 10-30 minutes.
Height 10-25 feet. Geologist Walter Weed named this feature in 1883
for the sagebrush-like coloration of the deposits. Artemisia is the
scientific name for sagebrush. Artemisia Geyser has the largest ornamented
crater of any thermal feature in Yellowstone. The popcorn-like sinter
has formed ridges by evaporation and small pools 30 feet from the 55x60
foot crater. An eruption is signaled by a sudden rise of water in the
crater and heavy overflow. The water begins to boil and jets rise to
20-25 feet. After an eruption, water drops nearly two feet in the crater.
MORNING GLORY POOL
Temperature 171.6°F Dimensions 23x26.6 feet. Depth 23 feet. A
deep, funnel-shaped pool with a dark blue center. The resemblance to
the corolla and color of a morning glory is responsible for its name
in the early 1880s. It has been a popular thermal feature and a symbol
of Yellowstone. The early stagecoach and automobile road came within
a few feet of this pool until 1971 when the road was rerouted. Early
visitors carelessly removed the delicate scalloped border and dumped
debris into the pool. In 1950 the water level was lowered by siphoning
which induced the pool to erupt. Socks, bath towels, 76 handkerchiefs,
$86.27 in pennies, $8.10 in other coins came up; in all, 112 different
objects were removed from Morning Glory. The debris had reduced the
flow of water and contributed to the decline in temperature, causing
bacteria to grow in the cooler yellow and orange edges of the pool.
Temperature 201.2°F Interval 7 hours. Duration 20 minutes. Height
75 feet. The 1871 Hayden Expedition officially named this geyser
for its location on the bank of the Firehole River. Riverside is an
isolated geyser, with its own plumbing system, and it has regular, predictable
eruptions. About one to two hours before an eruption water begins to
overflow and surge in the crater. Forty to 50 minutes before an eruption
water may boil and splash from the crater. A heavy surge or splash then
triggers an eruption. The column of water arches over the Firehole River
at about a 70° angle and at times spans the width of the River. The
eruption peaks during the first five minutes and then begins to subside
gradually, followed by a steam phase.
Temperature 193°F Interval Irregular (dormancy). Duration minutes
to several hours. Height 20-50 feet. Geologist Walter Weed in 1887
named this thermal feature apparently after a curative mineral spring
in Spa, Belgium. Spa Geyser has always had an interconnecting relationship
with Grotto and Rocket geysers. Spa usually erupts during a long eruption
(more than 2.5 hours) of Grotto. If it does not erupt during an eruption
of Grotto the 36-foot diameter basin then usually overflows with boiling
water. An eruption is characterized by a full and overflowing basin.
Boiling and surging, to a height of 3-4 feet, trigger a series of explosive
bursts lasting several minutes to several hours.
Temperature 200°F Interval 1 hour to 2 days (usually erupts during
Grotto Geyser's eruption). Duration follows eruptive pattern of Grotto
Geyser, Height 3-10 feet (with major eruptions up to 50 feet). Rocket
was named before 1904 and may have been named by geologists Arnold Hague
and Walter Weed. The name is descriptive of its eruption. Rocket Geyser
erupts in union with Grotto Geyser. During an eruption of Grotto, Rocket,
located north of Grotto along an interconnecting bridge of sinter, plays
in union, sending steady splashes and jets 3 to 10 feet high. Occasionally
Rocket has a major eruption about 1-2 hours after Grotto starts. During
a major eruption Grotto becomes silent and Rocket sends an eruptive
jet up to 50 feet high.
Temperature 201 °F Interval 1 hour to 2 days. Duration varies (3
hours for short mode and 9-13 hours for long modes). Height 20-30 feet. The 1870 Washburn Expedition named this unusual feature for the "winding
apertures penetrating the sinter." It is an unusual shaped formation
nearly 8 feet high. The club-shaped pillar and two adjoining arches
formed from fallen trees. The accumulation of sinter from eruptions
and evaporation has changed their original shape into eerie formations.
The transfer of thermal energy from Giant Geyser to Grotto in 1955 has
resulted in a productive feature. The eruptions consist of a series
of powerful splashes, steam and the discharge of nearly 150 gallons
per minute. Deep gurgling and splashing sounds are constantly emitted
from the vent.
Temperature 192-204°F Interval 78-144 minutes. Duration 2.5-4.5 minutes.
Height 75-150feet. It is uncertain how Daisy received its narne.
Confusion exists in early descriptions of the Daisy Group, and this
geyser may have originally been called Comet by Dr. F. Hayden in 1878.
Daisy Geyser is the most reliable and predictable of the major geysers
in the Upper Geyser Basin. Its average interval is between 85 to 100
minutes. However, wind and thunderstorms can delay an eruption up to
a half hour. Atmospheric pressure moves water within the underground
plumbing system much as it does in a barometer. Splashing begins approximately
20 minutes before an eruption from the larger of the two cones, and
10 minutes before in the smaller cone. Heavy splashing leads to an eruption
and reaches its maximum height in 45 to 60 seconds. The water jets at
a 70° angle.
Temperature 201.6°F Interval steady (irregular). Duration steady.
Height 5-15 feet. Dr. F. Hayden in 1878 originally named this geyser
Spray. Due to confusion of early geyser descriptions, names of the Daisy
Group became switched and the error was never corrected. Comet has the
largest cone in the Group, suggesting it is a powerful geyser. However,
water rarely splashes out of the crater, and rarely reaches 6 feet high.
It has been a steady geyser with little change since its discovery.
The only variance in its eruptive pattern is attributed to the eruptions
of Splendid and Daisy geysers and Brilliant Pool. This indicates subterranean
connections with others in the Group.
Temperature 199.4°F Interval infrequent to dormancy. Duration 2-10
minutes. Height 120-200 feet. P.W. Norris named this geyser in 1880
for its spectacular eruptions. Splendid was considered one of the major
geysers before 1898, when it became dormant. It was dormant until 1951-with
only one eruption in 1931-and active until 1959 when it became dormant
again. In 1971 Splendid resumed its infrequent activity. An indication
of a pending eruption is surging up to 30 feet. The water rises from
the crater like a fountain and begins erupting. There is an estimated
discharge of 40,000 gallons during each eruption.
PUNCH BOWL SPRING
Temperature 199°F Dimensions 12 feet diameter. Depth 30 feet. The name, descriptive of its punch bowl shape, was given by members
of the 1871 Hayden survey. The crater is a raised rim of sinter about
30 inches high. Water constantly boils and bubbles around the edge resembling
a large, bubbling cauldron. During the turn of the century, hot water
was piped from Punch Bowl to a tent camp a quarter of a mile to the
north. It is one of the few thermal features on which human tampering
has had no disastrous effect. Ribbons of bright green and orange cyanobacteria
line the run-off channels. No underground connections are known to exist
with other springs.
Temperature 202°F Interval frequent small eruptions. Duration seconds
to minutes. Height 1-30 feet. Around 1900 the Hague Party named
Mastiff Geyser for its position as a watchdog close to Giant Geyser.
Mastiff is located only 22 feet north of Giant, is closely related to
Giant and exchanges energy with it. Before 1951 Mastiff was an inactive
geyser and was considered dormant. During that year energy shifted from
Giant to Mastiff and Catfish geysers and they both erupted nearly 100
feet high. By early 1952 the energy shift ceased and since then Mastiff
has spring-like qualities with weak splashing from its 4 foot, bacteria
and algae covered cone. The vent was probed to a depth of 11 feet below
Temperature 202.7°F Interval 6-14 days to dormancy. Duration I hour.
Height 150-250 feet. Named by the 1870 Washburn Expedition for its
size and long duration, it is one of the major geysers of Yellowstone.
It has only erupted several times since 1955. Before 1955 hydrothermal
activity shifted cyclically from Grotto Geyser to Giant every four to
five years, but since the 1959 earthquake, energy has vented through
Grotto Geyser. Giant still possesses great thermal energy. It roars,
splashes, steams and has one of the hottest vents in the Basin. The
cone is also impressive; broken on one side, it is 12 feet high, with
an inside diameter of six feet.
Temperature 196°F Interval 4-13 hours. Duration 5-7 minutes. Height
20-40 feet. The 1872 Hayden Expedition named this geyser for the
shape of its crater. The greenish-blue tinted pool and elaborate sinter
formations around the crater are as impressive as an eruption. Even
though Oblong is not considered a major geyser, an eruption discharges
a high volume of water. During the quiet interval there is a slow rise
of water in the crater which can take one to three hours to fill. Eruptions
are difficult to predict since there are occasional periods of turbulence
and overflow. When it does erupt, a fountain of water wells up, setting
off jets of water accompanied by splashing and steam. Splashing and
evaporation are responsible for the elaborate growth of the sinter formations.
Temperature 164-175°F Dimensions 60 feet in diameter. Depth
25 feet. This spring and nearby Chromatic Pool are among the most
colorful pools in the geyser basins. Their colors begin with a deep
blue center radiating out to yellow, orange and red. The two pools are
related. When one pool begins to overflow, the water level in the other
drops. This periodic shifting in energy is accompanied by a 10°F change
in temperature. In recent years the water temperature has cooled, allowing
an increase in bacteria and algae growth and a resulting change in color.
Temperature 197°F Interval 15-25 minutes. Duration 4-5 minutes. Height
5-20 feet. Dr. A.C. Peale, geologist for the 1872 Hayden Party,
named this geyser for the resemblance "of some of the globular
masses of sinter in its basin to a Turkish headpiece." Turban and
Grand geysers are closely associated and have a complex functional relationship.
Turban's crater has a raised sinter rim and lies north of Grand's large,
shallow basin. Normally Turban erupts every 15-25 minutes, except during
an eruption of Grand. Grand erupts only at the start of an eruption
of Turban. The rising water in Turban's crater triggers an eruption
in Grand. Turban plays constantly during Grand's eruption and for an
hour after until Grand returns to normal.
Temperature 201°F Interval 6-15 hours. Duration 9-16 minutes. Height
140-200 feet. The power and spectacle of a Grand Geyser eruption
inspired the name given by the 1871 Hayden Expedition. It is one of
the few major geysers that has not changed considerably since its early
discovery. This fountain-type geyser erupts from a shallow basin which
slowly fills with water over a 5 hour period. Two adjoining geysers,
Turban and Vent, are separated by a thin narrow bridge. Grand's eruptive
cycle depends on the activity of these two geysers and West Triplet
and Rift geysers. Grand only erupts at the start of a Turban active
period. A slight ebb in Turban's eruption may signal an eruption of
Grand with an explosion, pulsating vibration, and jets of water. During
eruption Grand usually has 1 to 6 bursts lasting 1 to 10 minutes each.
Temperature 200°F Interval hours (irregular). Duration minutes to
hours. Height 3-15 feet. Dr. A.C.Peale, geologist with the 1878
Hayden survey, named Spasmodic Geyser for its erratic eruptions. This
geyser plays from a collection of vents-estimated at 20-centered around
two large craters. When Spasmodic is in full eruption water jets from
a few inches to several feet high from the numerous vents. The two pools
also erupt up to 15 feet high, with intermittent pauses and boiling,
pulsating water. Spasmodic and Penta geysers, and possibly Sawmill Geyser,
have subterranean connections. When the small, nearby Penta Geyser erupts,
all activity in Spasmodic ceases.
Temperature 189-207°F Interval 1-3 hours. Duration 15-90 minutes.
Height 5-40 feet. A topographer of the 1871 Hayden Expedition named
this geyser for its whistling sound, reminiscent of a large sawmill
in operation. The crater of this fountain-type geyser is empty between
eruptions. A gurgling sound and then a sudden filling of the basin indicates
a pending eruption. Pulsating jets of water erupt through the pool producing
a puffing or whistling noise. An eruption produces a large, steady discharge
of water to the run-off channel. Subterranean connections exist between
Sawmill, Tardy and Penta geysers and probably Spasmodic Geyser. Sawmill's
vent was probed to a depth of 13.5 feet.
Temperature 200°F Dimensions 25x30 feet. Depth 42 feet. Dr. F.V.
Hayden first described this pool in 1871 and noted its "unnatural
clearness" and the "delicate tracery of pure white silica."
Photographer W.H. Jackson took the first photograph of Crested Pool
during the 1871 expedition. Other than the addition of a board walk,
the pool has changed very little when compared to the early photograph.
It is a superheated pool and the edges are in a constant state of vibration
with occasional surges of hot water. It has erupted to 6 to 8 feet.
Temperatures recorded near the bottom of the pool have reached 237°F.
Crested Pool took the life of a young boy who unknowingly ran into the
steam and the pool in the spring of 1970. A railing now surrounds the
board-walk along the edge of the pool.
Temperature 200°F Interval 9-11 hours. Duration 1 hour. Height 60-90 feet. Members of the 1870 Langford-Doane Expedition named
this feature for the "resemblance to the ruins of an old castle."
The large sinter cone is nearly 12 feet high with a diameter of 20 feet
at the top. Castle was an irregular geyser, with periods of dormancy,
before the 1959 earthquake. Since the earthquake, it has been a regular,
easily predictable geyser. The water phase of an eruption lasts about
15 minutes and a steam phase, similar to a steam locomotive, lasting
an additional 45 minutes. Subterranean connections exist between Castle
and Crested Pool.
Temperature 202°F Interval 2-5 hours (irregular). Duration 2-4 minutes.
Height 30-60 feet. Four geysers comprise the Lion Group-Lion, Lioness,
Big and Little Cub geysers-and all have subterranean interconnections.
Col. P.W. Norris named the main geyser in 1881 for its resemblance,
when viewed from the south, to the body and maned head of a reclining
lion. Lion Geyser has the largest cone and usually has 2-4 eruptions
per cycle-lasting from 4 to 36 hours-at intervals of two to four hours
when it is active. Often, however, it can be 2 to 14 days between cycles.
Preceding an eruption is a sudden rush of steam, like the roaring of
a lion. There is a heavy discharge of water for a minute or so which
declines into a steam phase for the remainder of the duration. The other
features in the group also have dormant periods.
Temperature 202°F Dimensions 4x6 feet. Depth 4 feet. A small
but popular spring in the shape of a human ear. In 1890 geologist Walter
Weed originally named this Oyster Spring for its shape and later early
tourists called it Devil's Ear. Geyserite or sinter form the ornate
encrustation around its edge and along the overflow channel. It is a
super-heated spring reaching temperatures of205°F, and it is usually
in a state of ebullition or boiling. Surging, strong boiling and heavy
discharge occur after an eruption of Giantess Geyser. After the 1959
earthquake this spring had a minor eruption and produced a heavy discharge.
There are subterranean connections with nearby springs.
Temperature 200°F Interval 3-4 hours. Duration 60 seconds.
Height 10-30 feet. A small geyser named for the soft pastel colors
surrounding the vent. Iron oxides are responsible for staining the sinter
its peach and golden colors. Intricate, scalloped formations and unusual
and symmetric patterns have formed around the vent. In the past Aurum
has had long periods of dormancy, but since 1985, with the exception
of 1988, it has been a regular, active geyser. Splashing begins an eruption
which usually jets 10-15 feet high. There are no known underground connections
with other springs.
Temperature 194.4°F Dimensions 9x25 feet. Depth 8 feet. Doublet
Pool is two hot springs together forming a sapphire-blue-colored pool.
A sinter ledge extends over the surface of the pool and two feet below
this is another ledge, indicating that the water level was lower at
an earlier time. The pool produces a periodic, inaudible thumping which
can be felt, more than heard, when standing close to the pool. The water
also slightly pulses during the thumping process. It has erupted in
the past, once during an eruption of a nearby geyser and after the 1959
earthquake. These eruptions were minor with boiling activity only two
feet high. The overflow is small, discharging only one to 20 gallons
Temperature 199°F Interval steady. Duration steady. Height 2-3 feet. Pump Geyser, named for its descriptive sound, is a small, nearly constant
geyser located in the center of Geyser Hill. It splashes, but only 2
to 3 feet high, and thumps without an apparent interval, though there
are lulls. Since its discovery, this thermal feature has had no noticeable
changes in activity. Even the 1959 earthquake had little effect on its
function, though others around it were greatly affected. Since Pump
is almost constantly in play it produces a steady flow of water which
has resulted in a stable microbial community in the run-off channel.
This is perhaps the richest and thickest laminated mat in the basin.
It supports colonies of ephydrid flies, tiny, vermilion hot spring mites,
and predator wolf spiders.
Temperature 199°F Interval 1 minute. Duration seconds to 1 minute.
Height 1-2 feet. Sponge Geyser, named for its rounded, hole-ridden
cone which gives it the appearance of a sponge, is the successor to
an older, more active geyser. The iron-stained sinter cone is now in
the process of erosion. It is one of the smallest geysers with most
eruptions varying between six to nine inches and rare up wellings reaching
two feet. The eruptions occur at one minute intervals and mainly consist
of boiling. The water level drops and rises before another eruption.
Temperature 200.7°F Interval 0 to 41 eruptions per year (dormancy).
Duration 3-43 hours. Height 150-200 feet. Nathaniel Langford of
the 1870 Washburn Expedition named this feature "the Giantess,
the largest of all the geysers we saw in eruption." Giantess is
unpredictable with long dormant periods. When it does erupt, the first
hour is generally the most spectacular. An eruption has two phases-a
water and steam phase. Water periodically jets to 200 feet high during
the first hour and as the water phase subsides steam begins and roars
from the 15x20 foot crater, sending a large column of steam into the
atmosphere. Giantess' vent has been probed to a depth of 62 feet below
the lip. Subterranean connections exist between other Geyser Hill features
and after an eruption, nearby Beehive Geyser may be triggered to erupt.
Temperature 201 °F Dimensions 8x13 feet. Depth 16 feet. This
spring received its name because of the heart-like shape of the crater.
Heart Spring has had temperature fluctuations from 150-202°F. This wide
range of temperature has allowed microbial growth to form varicolored
patterns. This spring is typical of many of Yellowstone's thermal springs.
Nearly 10,000 thermal features exist in Yellowstone and many are alkaline
hot springs similar to Heart Spring in size and appearance. One feature
which distinguishes each is the bright, colorful cyanobacteria and algae
which grow along the edge of run-off channels. Each spring has its unique
Temperature 200°F Interval 3.5-5.5 hours. Duration 2-3 minutes. Height
8-10 feet. Prior to 1959 Depression Geyser was an unnamed spring
and seldom erupted. It received its name because of the depressed appearance
of the old sinter crater. The 1959 earthquake set this geyser into action
and subsequent earthquakes have caused changes in its activity. An eruption
is characterized by a strong overflow and a pulsating, splash-type eruption.
Between eruptions the crater gradually fills with water colored a deep
green. No underground connections are known to exist with other springs.
Temperature 199°F Interval 7 hours to days (dormancy). Duration 4-5
minutes. Height 150-200 feet. The 1870 Washburn Expedition named
this geyser after its beehive-shaped cone. The cone is three and a half
feet high with a four foot diameter. Beehive, considered one of the
largest active geysers in the world, erupts to a height of 200 feet.
However, since its discovery, it has been unpredictable. It has eruptive
intervals of eight to twelve hours, but it has infrequent eruptions
as long as 3 to 10 days and dormancy of weeks to months. A small vent
located a few feet east of Beehive, called Beehive's Indicator, erupts
6-10 feet usually 10-20 minutes before an eruption. An eruption begins
with occasional splashing, then small surges. These progress into an
eruption as the ground rumbles and a narrow, straight fountain of water
Temperature 183-194°F Interval 25-36 minutes. Duration 1-2 minutes.
Height 10-30 feet. Plume is an example of a newly formed geyser.
It apparently formed as the result of a steam explosion in 1922, leaving
a jagged opening flush to the ground. Plume flourished for several years,
then became dormant until 1941 when it again became active and erupted
nearly every hour on the hour. The 1959 earthquake changed its eruptive
cycle and since then it has erupted on a half hour cycle with 1 to 4
bursts. In 1972 another steam explosion added and extended the vent
to the west. An eruption is pending when water quickly rises in the
crater and begins to overflow. The water pulses and splashing triggers
an eruption. The geyser erupts at an angle directed to the west. The
crater has been probed to a depth of 7.5 feet below the lip.
Temperature 200°F Interval 3-8 minutes, Duration seconds to 2 minutes,
Height 3-10 feet.Turn-of-the-century tourists named this geyser
after the anemone flower. The geyser erupts from two shallow basins,
nearly six feet apart. The two vents, lined with sinter beads, act separately
with minor eruptions occurring about every 5-10 minutes to a height
of 5-6 feet. Activity shifts from vent to vent, but they seldom erupt
together. This small geyser can be viewed from the boardwalk and easily
demonstrates the workings of a geyser. Seconds before an eruption the
throat emits a gurgling sound and the basin then fills with water. The
pool begins splashing which triggers an eruption. After the eruption
dies down the basin drains and emits a sucking sound as if a stopper
were being pulled in a bath tub.
BLUE STAR SPRING
Temperature 192°F Dimensions 9x10 feet. Depth 6 feet. It received its name from the star-like sinter formation around the
edge of the pool. Extensive ledges have formed three to four feet over
the crater, creating an illusion of a small spring. The ornate scalloped
border of the ledge also extends along the overflow channel. This spring
has had a history of vandalism. In 1946 during cleaning, a pile of debris
three feet in height by six feet in width was collected. A bison calf
fell into the pool in the mid 1980s and the bones can still be seen
on the bottom. No known subterranean connection exists with other thermal
features. The spring discharges approximately four gallons per minute.
Temperature 200° Dimensions 28x34 inches. Depth 12.5 feet. A
small spring located along the Firehole River. Chinaman has erupted
20-30 feet high, but all known eruptions were man-induced. The first
incident of a known eruption occurred in the 1880s when a Chinese laundryman
pitched his tent over the spring and used the hot water as a clothes
boiler. The clothes were suspended in the boiling water by a wicker
basket. When laundry soap was added the spring erupted for the first
time and a column of water ejected the laundry and collapsed the tent.
LONE STAR GEYSER
Temperature 197° Interval 3 hours. Duration 30 minutes. Height 35-40
feet. The 1872 Hayden Expedition originally named this feature Solitary
because it was an isolated geyser on the upper Firehole River. Its large,
streaked sinter cone is 11.5 feet high. One large vent and several smaller
apertures constantly splash during the quiet phase. This splashing is
responsible for the cone growth. An eruption usually occurs in two phases.
The first phase may be a short eruption lasting three to five minutes
with jets reaching 25 feet. After a period of 15-25 minutes the second
phase begins with splashing, then continues with a forceful jet of water
which progresses into a steam phase. The second phase lasts 30 minutes.