Chocolate Pots

If you know where to go it's quite easy to reach the Chocolate Pots. They are located along Gibbon River next to a roadway turnout approximately 1.7 km (1 mile) north of the branch-off to the parking lot at Artists' Paintpots. Although some of the Chocolate Pots can be seen from the road, the best viewpoints are next to the river. Even if the river bank is steep and a little bit slippery, it's worth the effort to climb downslope. The RCN database lists 21 different features, but most of them are no more than small vents with hardly notable sinter mounds. Only a few springs show the name-giving, conical bulged sinter deposits in pronounced shape. These orange-brown mounds consist mainly of precipitated iron oxide, mixed with silica. Compared to more typical hot springs of Yellowstone the temperature of chocolate pot springs is only moderate, around 50 °C (130 °F) or less.

One of the most impressive features is Chocolate Pot GCPNN002 on the east bank. Strictly speaking GCPNN002 is the designation of the vent on top of the mound. Two satellite vents half way downslope to the right and to the lefthand are listed as GCPNN001 and GCPNN003.

Chocolate Pot GCPNN002 Yellowstone
Chocolate Pot GCPNN002

In 2002, microbiologists studied Chocolate Pot GCPNN002 as an exemplary model for weakly acidic, iron-depositing hot springs. They found a high diversity of cyanobacteria with high iron tolerance such as bright orange or olive mats of Oscillatoria sp., whose colonies reorient to a shifting light source by concerted, oscillating movements of their filaments. Further finds were dark streamers of Fischerella, featuring branched filaments, and species of the new genus Chroogloeocystis.

Also on the east bank, but 20 m (65 feet) farther south, Chocolate Pot GCPNN011 can be found.

Chocolate Pots GCPNN011 and  GCPNN012 Yellowstone
Chocolate Pot GCPNN011

At the base of GCPNN011, almost at water level, the small cone of GCPNN012 shows a river smoothened surface. Note the small spouter beyond GCPNN012 in the river. It is not listed in the RCN database, but two submerged springs were already mentioned by Eugene T. Allen and Arthur L. Day (Hot Springs of the Yellowstone National Park, 1935, p.357).

Chocolate Pot GCPNN012 Yellowstone
Chocolate Pot GCPNN012

The last one to be shown is also the most gorgeous one. Chocolate Pot GCPNN019 sits south of GCPNN011 on the west bank of the river. In this case the composition of different iron oxides (hematite, limonite) looks like a chocolate pot topped with custard sauce.

Chocolate Pot GCPNN019 Yellowstone
Chocolate Pot GCPNN019

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