Volcanic Springs

Geysers, Hot Springs,
Mud Pots, and Fumaroles

Mammoth Hot Springs, Lower Terraces

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Different parking lots serve the lower terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. Strictly speaking, even the road, the parking lots and the whole village of Mammoth Hot Springs are built on travertine terraces, the largest of which is called Hotel Terrace. Before you enter the boardwalks, Liberty Cap may be the first feature to catch the eye. This 14 m (45 feet) tall and approximately 2500 years old ancient hot spring cone rests on the level of Hymen Terrace.

Liberty Cap:

Liberty Cap Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Liberty Cap, Mammoth Hot Springs
Hymen Terrace, on par with the lower parking lots, adjoins the southwest edge of Hotel Terrace. The Hymen Springs can be observed 50 m (55 yards) northwest of Liberty Cap. Hymen Springs have been intermittently flowing since their earliest recorded observation in 1870, with a peak of activity up until 1925, when their pronounced terracettes often were the main attraction of Mammoth Hot Springs, and a long dormancy between 1936 and the early 1990s.

Hymen Spring on northwest corner of Hymen Terrace, seen from the Howard Eaton Trail in 2017:

Hymen Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Hymen Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs

Hymen Terrace, seen from the Beaver Pond Trail:

Hymen Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Hymen Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
Across the roadway from Hymen Terrace a further, less noticed terrace appears, called Opal Terrace. Even if it is hard to see from far, Opal Spring is frequently active, mostly in a minor section of the terrace. Nevertheless, the discharge of hot water was high enough to enforce the removal of a tennis court on site in 1947.

Opal Terrace in front of Capitol Hill:

Opal Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Opal Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
From the level of Hymen Terrace, Palette Terrace rises in a distinctive step. The picture shows the setting in 2011, when the hot springs flowed high volumes of water and generated an extensive orange-brown film of thermophilic microorganisms on the slope.

Palette Terrace in 2011:

Palette Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Palette Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
The westernmost of the two main springs on Palette Terrace is called Palette Spring. It is known at least since 1878 and has been intermittently active since then.

Palette Spring, western vent on top of Palette Terrace (2013):

Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
On the way down the slope the carbonate-rich water has built up an impressive cascade of terracettes over the years.

Palette Spring runoff west of Devil's Thumb (2013):

Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
A closer look on the bottom of Palette Spring's overhanging terracette deposit reveals stunning details of stalactites growing down the deposits lip. If those self-supporting deposites grow too far, a crash becomes unavoidable. Accordingly, several broken overhanging deposites can be seen at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Palette Spring, overhanging terracette deposit (2013):

Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
Separated from the western vent by Devil's Thumb, an old hot spring cone, Palette Spring's second vent discharges almost the same volume of water on a broad front down the slope.

Palette Spring, eastern vent:

Palette Spring eastern pool Yellowstone

Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
In summer of 2011 the eastern vent had developed an exceptionally wide overhanging terracette deposit at the top edge of the slope.

Palette Spring, terracette deposit and runoff of eastern vent in 2011:

Palette Spring terracette deposit Yellowstone

Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
New Palette Spring occupies the eastern part of Palette Terrace. It developed around 1944 and showed most of the time clearly less discharge compared to Palette Spring. The spring and its runoff can be best seen from boardwalks at the eastern edge of the thermal area.

New Palette Spring:

New Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

New Palette Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
The further springs at the level of Palette Terrace southeast along the Grand Loop Road are Cavern Spring and the Reservoir Springs. Cavern Spring was active until the mid 1970s, Reservoir Spring until the late 1980s, and some minor discharge was registered between 2005 and 2011. Currently only bleak ground can be seen on their sites, but freshly painted signs were still in place until 2016.

Cavern Terrace, looking southeast:

Cavern Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Cavern Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs

Location of the Reservoir Springs:

Reservoir Springs Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Reservoir Springs, Mammoth Hot Springs
The terrace level on top of Palette Terrace is called Minerva Terrace. It comprises two hot springs. Cleopatra Spring in the west was observed for the first time in 1906. It has built up the Cleopatra Terrace, which is regarded as a part of Minerva Terrace.

Cleopatra Terrace (2013):

Cleopatra Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Cleopatra Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs

Cleopatra Spring and terrace, seen from the Howard Eaton Trail (2017):

Cleopatra Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Cleopatra Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
The second hot spring on Minerva Terrace is Minerva Spring. Confusingly, this one was originally named Cleopatra Spring, while the current Cleopatra Spring carried the name Diana Spring. Already the first explorers saw Minerva Spring flowing. For most of the documented history it was a reliable performer and its terracettes were one of the most colorful attractions at Mammoth Hot Springs. Unfortunately, the activity declined from the 1980s onwards through to a complete stop since the early 2000s. Also the runoff of the higher located Mound Spring currently only bypasses Minerva's old terracettes.

Minerva Spring, dry terracettes and brown runoff channel of Mound Spring:

Minerva Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Minerva Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
The next level on terrace mountain is Main Terrace, encompassing the Main Springs, Blue Spring, the New Blue Springs, the Jupiter Springs, Naiad Spring, Mound Spring, the Trail Springs, and Canary Spring. According to this also some spring areas have been named as sub-terraces. Mound Terrace is the sub-terrace, which has been built up by Naiad Spring and Mound Spring. It represents the northeastern corner of Main Terrace and shows a clearly lower top level. Naiad Spring, located on top of the eastern face of Mound Terrace, is intermittently active at least since 1878. However, since the 1970s no runoff has been observed.

Mound Terrace, northeast corner:

Mound Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Mound Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs
In the western section of Mound Terrace, half-way upslope above the boardwalk, Mound Spring emerged around 2008 and formed an impressive set of terracettes since then.

Mound Spring in 2017 (roll mouse over picture for comparison with 2013):

Mound Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs

Mound Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
Note the two feet high artesian fountain of the spring, which is quite unusual for the Mammoth area.

Mound Spring with artesian fountain in 2013:

Mound Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Mound Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs

Mound Spring, runoff in front of old Minerva Spring terracettes:

Mound Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Mound Spring runoff, Mammoth Hot Springs
Jupiter Terrace is attached to Mound Terrace in the southeast. The next picture shows Jupiter Spring on top of Jupiter Terrace, located south of the fissure which separates it from Mound Terrace. In most years the spring is empty, and until now it has never again reached the high discharge seen from 1920 to 1935 and from 1953 to 1995 when major parts of the Jupiter Terrace were deposited. A separate boardwalk still leads to the east face of Jupiter Terrace, where the deterioration of the old terracette formations can be sighted.

Jupiter Spring on top of Jupiter Terrace (2017):

Jupiter Spring Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

Jupiter Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs

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