Volcanic Springs

Geysers, Hot Springs,
Mud Pots, and Fumaroles

Norris Porcelain Basin - Features on the slope in front of Norris Museum

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Two partly overlapping loop trails give access to the thermal features of Norris Porcelain Basin. This makes it a little bit tricky to present the features in a sequence a visitor will encounter them on location. To retain orientation the virtual tour is divided up into three parts and one supplement:

Features on the slope in front of Norris Museum:

From Norris Museum the trail leads slightly down to a fork. The steep slope beyond the fork is home of several geysers and fumaroles. Probably the first one to catch the eye by forceful steaming is Guardian Geyser directly at the base of the slope. Actually, the fork of the trail on top of the slope is the best position to observe Guardian. This geyser is known for different modes of activity. In the past it has often ejected hot water ("water-phase eruptions") up to 9 m (30 feet) high, but currently it acts almost exclusively as a steam vent.

Guardian Geyser:

Guardian Geyser Yellowstone

Guardian Geyser
The similarily strong steaming vent on a hump right (east) of Guardian Geyser is Black Growler Steam Vent. It has never shown any geyser activity, but was featuring the highest surface temperature of 138 °C (280 °F) ever measured in Yellowstone. Strictly speaking, Black Growler is not only a single steam vent, but a collection of one big and several smaller vents, distributed on or near the upper edge of the slope. In course of time there have been many changes of the system, and at least five different major fumaroles have been called Black Growler. One of them even was located across the trail within a patch between the boardwalks.

Black Growler Steam Vent:

Black Growler Steam Vent Yellowstone

Black Growler Steam Vent
To the other side (west) of Guardian Geyser, Dark Cavern Geyser occupies the base of the slope. It is a little bit hard to spot, and no matter which position on the trail you choose, the vents of Dark Cavern will always be at least partly obscured by trees or its own geyserite mound. In the past Dark Cavern often was a frequent performer, but currently eruptions are very rare. Accordingly, the geyserite cone shows already signs of decomposition.

Dark Cavern Geyser:

Dark Cavern Geyser Yellowstone

Dark Cavern Geyser
The small mud pots and quiet hot springs on the flat area north of Dark Cavern and Guardian Geyser are collectively called Lewis Mud Pots.

Lewis Mud Pots (Dark Cavern Geyser in front right):

Lewis Mud Pots Yellowstone

Lewis Mud Pots Yellowstone
Close to Guardian Geyser and partly embedded in the base of an alcove, Valentine Geyser is nearly impossible to observe from the top of the slope. To take a look on Valentines large cone you have to complete half the loop trail and spot it from north. The geyser emerged on Valentine's Day in 1907, hence the name. Eruptions of Valentine Geyser are of impressive height up to 30 m (100 feet), but unfortunately very rare.

Valentine Geyser (large cone in center), steam plume of Guardian Geyser (on left side), Dark Cavern Geyser (on right side):

Guardian Geyser and Valentine Geyser Yellowstone

Guardian Geyser and Valentine Geyser
If you follow the trail down the east side of the slope, you pass Ledge Geyser. Ledge plays from different vents. The hillside vent opposite to the trail can't be missed, because most of the time it shows some weak spraying. Another one, regarded as main vent but currently nearly inactive, is within the ragged geyserite structure a few feet to the right. A third one is hidden at the bottom of the pressure pool in front of hillside vent, called Palm Pool. The fourth one sits at the hillside below the trail, and is very hard to spot from there. A slightly better view is given from the north section of the loop trail (see photo). After a long period of almost complete dormancy since 1998 Ledge Geyser eventually erupted on April 18th 2015, giving a little hope for future activity.

Ledge Geyser and Palm Pool in front (roll mouse over picture to display vent on eastern hillside):

Ledge Geyser and Palm Pool Yellowstone

Ledge Geyser
The pool northeast of Ledge carries the name Jetsam Pool. Geyser activity was seen in the 1990s, but only on very rare occasions.

Jetsam Pool:

Jetsam Pool Yellowstone

Jetsam Pool Yellowstone
Even closer to the trail is Basin Geyser northwest of Jetsam Pool. Basin Geyser was for the last time active in the 1970s.

Basin Geyser:

Basin Geyser Yellowstone

Basin Geyser Yellowstone
North of Basin Geyser Scummy Pool is one of the few named blue pools west of the boardwalk.

Scummy Pool:

Scummy Pool Yellowstone

Scummy Pool Yellowstone

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