Volcanic Springs

Geysers, Hot Springs,
Mud Pots, and Fumaroles

Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful Group

Old Faithful Geyser is the main tourist magnet of the Upper Geyser Basin. Large parking lots lie nearby, and the geyserite mound of Old Faithul is halfway circled by serveral rows of benches, to ensure comfort while waiting for the next eruption. Old Faithful is indeed remarkably faithful in its intervals (the time span between the starts of two subsequent eruptions) and also in its eruption heights. Usually, the interval between eruptions of less than 2.5 minutes duration is around 1 hour, whereas the interval between eruptions lasting more than 2.5 minutes is around and 1 hour and a half. It has to be noted that since the time of the geyser's first discovery in 1870 the average over both short and long interval types has increased under the impact of several earthquakes. The height of the water column lies between 32 m and 56 m (106 feet - 185 feet). Old Faithful is one of a few geysers with no historical reports of any dormancy. But that wasn't always the case. Yellowstone ranger-naturalist George Marler discovered that 730 +/- 200 years ago a hot spring wiped out a forest on the site of Old Faithful's cone after a long time of quietness. However, geyser activity emerged probably not earlier than 300 years ago.

Old Faithful Geyser:

Old Faithful Geyser Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful's geyserite mound is not very high, but quite massive. On a closer look (from the boardwalk, of course) it exhibits a delicate ornamentation. There are also some smaller pools around the orifice, but they can't be spotted from the boardwalk. Unfortunately, park vistors in the late 19th and early 20th century removed quite large amounts of geyserite as souvenirs, leading to a noticeable damaging and loss in height of the cone. In June 1966 it was hit by a lightning bolt and and some people were injured because the discharging electric current traveled along a cable of a monitoring device and leapt to the wet observation platform.

Old Faithful's geyserite mound, close-up:

Old Faithful Geyser Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser
Adjacent to Old Faithful's geyserite mound are Split Cone Geyser in the southwest and Teapot Geyser in the northwest. Both may show weak splashing. While Split Cone lies not too far away from the boardwalk, Teapot Geyser is located at even larger distance than Old Faithful. On June 27th, 2017 the Old Faithful webcam recorded a spectacular lightning strike into Split Cone, which obviously caused no damage.

Split Cone Geyser:

Split Cone Geyser Yellowstone

Split Cone Geyser
In the past century eruptions of Split Cone Geyser were a very rare sight, but that has changed. Now the interval lies in the range of some hours, and even if the splashes are only two foot high, they are often a welcome side event during the waiting period for Old Faithful.

Split Cone Geyser erupting on August 10th, 2017:

Split Cone Geyser Yellowstone

Split Cone Geyser
There are not too many pictures around of Teapot Geyser. On location, the reasons become obvious: The geyser is erupting very rarely, the eruptions are only one or two feet high, it is located far away from all boardwalks, and if you still look for it, you see the flat cone only from the side and can't spot the orifice.

Teapot Geyser steaming (the pile of boulders just in front is a protection for a monitoring device):

Teapot Geyser Yellowstone

Teapot Geyser
Further features of the Old Faithful Group are located downslope on the bank of Firehole River. Most eye-catching among them is Blue Star Spring, which is usually quiet, but rarely some splashing has been observed.

Blue Star Spring:

Blue Star Spring Yellowstone

Blue Star Spring
A short distance downstream the boardwalk passes East Chinaman Spring. The runoff of this constantly bioling spring exhibits a lining of pastel green thermophilic bacteria, which is rather unusual.

East Chinaman Spring:

East Chinaman Spring Yellowstone

East Chinaman Spring
Chinese Spring next to East Chinaman Spring is the last member of the Old Faithful Group. It is rumored that in 1889 four Chinese, who had established al laundry tent over the feature, where blown away by an eruption. Reliable historical sources about the accident are missing, and the only true element of the story may be the fact that Chinese Spring is a rarely active geyser, capable of eruptions up to 6 m (20 feet) height. Nevertheless, the rumor was the reason for naming it Chinaman Spring and later Chinese Spring.

Chinese Spring:

Chinese Spring Yellowstone

Chinese Spring Yellowstone

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