Volcanic Springs

Geysers, Hot Springs,
Mud Pots, and Fumaroles

Norris Back Basin - page 3

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Passing Yellow Funnel Spring the boardwalk climbs a low ridge and turns left to an observation platform, where you can overlook the central flat of Norris Back Basin. At first your attention is probably drawn to a busy spouter, occupying a prominent position directly in front of the observation platform. The feature is called Orby Geyser (or Orbicular Geyser), and is spouting most of the time.

Orby Geyser:

Orby Geyser Yellowstone

Orby Geyser
Around Orby Geyser many craters perforate the ground, some of them belonging to informally named features such as The Cousins or Xiuhtecuhbi (name of the Aztec God of Fire). They all are rarely active or extinct. The area right (east) of Orby Geyser is partly obscured by trees flanking the boardwalk, and therefore often ignored. A closer look reveals at least two interesting features: Son of Green Dragon Spring and Grandson of Green Dragon Spring. Both are usually acting as perpetual spouters.

Grandson of Green Dragon Spring (crater on the left side) and Son of Green Dragon Spring (on the right side, partially obscured by trees):

Grandson of Green Dragon Spring Yellowstone

Grandson of Green Dragon Spring

Son of Green Dragon Spring, seen from a spot near Porkchop Geyser:

Son of Green Dragon Spring Yellowstone

Son of Green Dragon Spring
Even further to the east are the positions of Daughter of Green Dragon Spring and Dabble Geyser. After the boardwalk has been rerouted in 2003 (one of the reasons was the appearance of Daughter of Green Dragon Spring next to the walk), both features can no longer be observed. The next stop along the trail is the spring NBBNN030 across the trail from Porkchop Geyser.

NBBNN030:

Hot spring NBBNN030 Yellowstone

Porkchop Geyser may have the most dramatical known history of all features in Back Basin. Up until 1989 it was an occasionally active geyser, playing from a small geyserite pool with the shape of a porkchop. But the vent was sealed more and more by geyserite precipitation, so the pressure in the subterranean system rose and the geyser finally exploded in September 1989. Nowadays the explosion crater is filled with opalescent blue water and is splashing from time to time.

Porkchop Geyser:

Porkchop Geyser Yellowstone

Porkchop Geyser
A few feet north of Porkchop Geyser a vent with the strange name Second Erupter quite frequently sends out angled jets of hot water.

Second Erupter:

Second Erupter Yellowstone

Second Erupter
The area between Porkchop Geyser and Son of Green Dragon Spring is geothermally very active. Features may be developed and destroyed within a short period of time. One example is Bastille Geyser east of Porkchop Geyser, which existed from 1992 to 1995. Now, many years later, the crater can no longer be identified with certainty. In contrast, nearby Double Bulger Geyser seems to be more persistently active. However, it is possible that two different features have been summarized under the same name.

Double Bulger Geyser, east vent:

Double Bulger Geyser, east vent Yellowstone

Double Bulger Geyser

Double Bulger Geyser, west vent:

Double Bulger Geyser, west vent Yellowstone

Double Bulger Geyser
Southeast of Double Bulger a pool with a small spouter on its west side catches the eye. Its one of many nameless active features in the area, which probably will survive only for a short time.

Spouter southeast of Double Bulger in 2013:

Spouter southeast of Double Bulger Yellowstone

Pearl Geyser is very popular both because of its opalescent appearance and its sparkling eruptions. Sometimes the geyserite lining of the crater exhibits a pearl-like luster. However, episodes of eruptive activity are quite rare.

Pearl Geyser:

Pearl Geyser Yellowstone

Pearl Geyser
Looking east from Pearl Geyser you see an area with some deep, steaming holes and a somewhat larger hot pool in center. Surprisingly, none of the features seem to be documented in the RCN database.

Area east of Pearl Geyser in 2013:

Area east of Pearl Geyser Yellowstone

The next photo shows the changes in the same area caused by a disturbance 4 years later. The shot was taken with a wide angle lens, so the field of view is larger. For orientation, the gaping hole from the photo above turned into a cluster of opalescent springs on the photo below on the left side.

Area east of Pearl Geyser on August 13th, 2017:

Area east of Pearl Geyser Yellowstone

Almost as popular as Pearl Geyser is Vixen Geyser a short distance to the north. Vixen is erupting quite frequently.

Vixen Geyser:

Vixen Geyser Yellowstone

Vixen Geyser
From the boardwalk between Pearl Geyser and Vixen Geyser two large steam plumes can be spotted behind trees in the west. The left one is from Psychedelic Steam Vent, a fumarole hidden in the forest. The other one is emitted by Recess Spring, which is sometimes acting as a geyser. There are a few positions on the trail, where you can catch a glimpse of it. Recess Spring is already more than 120 m (130 yards) off the closest boardwalk at Porkchop Geyser, but in June 2016 a 23-year-old man from Orgeon and his sister even traveled beyond it along the remains of the old road through Norris Basin, which was closed in 1968. According to a report from park officials, they were illegally looking for a pool suitable for so-called hot potting, the soaking in a natural hot spring. Northwest of Recess Spring, the man bent down to check the temperature of an unnamed, strongly steaming pool when he lost balance, fell into it and was scalded to death. The rescue team found his flip flops and some other personal items on scene, but suspended the efforts to recover his body on the next day because the acidic spring did not leave anything to recover.

Recess Spring, seen from the boardwalk near Vixen Geyser:

Recess Spring Yellowstone

Recess Spring, Colin Nathaniel Scott
Behind Vixen Geyser a branch of the trail leads to Veteran Geyser. Like Vixen it is frequently active, jetting water up to 7 m (25 feet) high and 15 m (50 feet) far out of its back vent. Another vent is on the far side inside the pool, a third one at the outer rim of the pool (on the photo to be seen just in foreground). The dark crater east of Veteran, Veteran's Auxiliary Vent, is also part of the system and shows eruptions of its own on rare occasions.

Veteran Geyser:

Veteran Geyser Yellowstone

Veteran Geyser
On your way back from Veteran to the main loop trail you come across Dog's Leg Spring and Coproral Geyser. Both show only weak eruptive action, and tiny Dog's Leg Spring is capable of playing even a little bit higher than Coropral Geyser.

Dog's Leg Spring:

Dog's Leg Spring Yellowstone

Dog's Leg Spring

Corporal Geyser:

Corporal Geyser Yellowstone

Corporal Geyser

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