GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

All posts in Geysers

Reports about Yellowstone’s erupting thermal features, their prediction, and how they work.

Steamboat Geyser runoff

Click for a larger image.

A heads-up for anyone traveling to Yellowstone this week: Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone closed on Monday October 7, 2019, to all visitors. The area closure includes the entire basin, entrance road, parking lot, and Norris Geyser Basin Museum. (The Norris Campground and the Museum of the National Park Ranger already closed for the season in September.) The closure is for paving at the junction. The announced closure is for just two days, but weather and other factors could easily extend it.

This picture shows how Steamboat Geyser’s runoff looks during a minor eruption. According to Geysertimes.org, it’s been six days since the last major eruption of Steamboat Geyser, so it’s well within the expected window for its next one. So that is annoying to geyser gazers, but of course this is one of the last possible weeks to do any construction before the winter snows come.

The photo of Steamboat Geyser’s prodigious runoff channel, Norris Geyser Basin, was taken by Beth Chapple on June 28, 2019.

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An active Norris Geyser Basin geyser

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Norris Geyser Basin’s most famous geyser is Steamboat, which can amazingly spout to three times the height of Old Faithful Geyser, making it the world’s largest. On June 28, during a research trip for the forthcoming sixth edition of Yellowstone Treasures, I lingered in the basin for three hours, catching some of Steamboat’s minor eruptions and watching the runoff channel. Steamboat has been very active all summer, as you can see on the Geyser Times website, so maybe you will get a chance to see it erupt during your visit! But on that particular day it did not erupt until nearly midnight, when I was long back to my home near Seattle.

While waiting, I strolled over to Veteran Geyser, “which probably derived its name from the very old sinter deposits all around,” as author Janet Chapple says in the fifth edition of the guidebook on page 238.

Veteran Geyser

Veteran Geyser, morning of June 28, 2019

Veteran Geyser back vent But behind the main pool of Veteran Geyser is a vent that has become more active in recent years. So we will be adding the phrase “recently getting a beautiful light coating of geyserite” to the description. Below you can see a more detailed view.
—Editor Beth

Veteran Geyser back vent detail

Fresh geyserite deposited by Veteran Geyser, June 2019

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Updated for 2018, part 3

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Steamboat Geyser 4 June 2018

This photo of a major eruption of Steamboat Geyser gives a sense of its power but not its full height!

Every time we update the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook, such as for the second printing of the fifth edition in spring 2018, there are numerous changes to the hot springs and geysers that must be reviewed and considered. Not only that, “the number of hot springs in the park has been estimated to be around 10,000. Geysers known to have erupted or erupting now number more than 1,200” (Yellowstone Treasures, page 61).

Here are a few of the geyser changes since the cutoff date for the first printing, February 2017. During 2017 Atomizer Geyser (p. 96) noticeably slowed its interval down from twice a day to an average of 20 hours. Page 93 of the first printing says Giant Geyser last erupted on September 28, 2015 (and that was after a five-and-a-half year hiatus, so it was pretty important). But nature has been busy proving the guidebook wrong. Giant erupted on July 7, October 9, and November 3, 2017, so we included the November date as the last eruption. Now the most recent eruption was actually July 24, 2018, and that was the third time in the month of July.

We are fortunate to have a website called GeyserTimes.org, where geyser gazers can log their observations or the notes from a ranger or scientist at the US Geological Survey (USGS) Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Readings from seismometers, thermometers, and water discharge monitors are used to record eruptions even when nobody is there to witness them. That is how we know that Steamboat Geyser started erupting again on March 15, 2018, too late to get into the second printing. On page 233, it unfortunately still says “After eruptions in 2003 and 2005, Steamboat erupted once each in 2013 and 2014.” Yet as of today there have been 11 more since March 15, with the latest occurring on July 20, 2018! The USGS is keeping a running count of Steamboat’s water eruptions at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory page.

You may have a chance to see the Giant or Steamboat Geysers on your trip to Yellowstone. Stay informed with Yellowstone Treasures, both the book and this website.

—Beth Chapple, editor and publisher

Photo credit: James St. John, June 4, 2018. Reproduced courtesy of a partial Creative Commons license. More photos and more about the history of Steamboat Geyser is available at on the geologist’s Flickr page for this photo.

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Geyser watching as family sport—beats TV!

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Grand Geyser

Grand Geyser (2013)

Here is an excerpt from an article in the February/March 2018 issue of The Geyser Gazer Sput that went straight to my heart. This family,the Altstidl’s, lives near the Bavarian Alps.

GOSA: How long have you been geyser gazing?
The parents first fell in love with Yellowstone in 1994 and so decided to return in 1997 with the twin boys. They were only 13 months old, but not too young to enjoy Echinus Geyser. Since 2001, we have been coming back to this beautiful place every year and, with time, developed our passion for geysers. While waiting for our first major geysers like Grand and Great Fountain, we were taught about the things to look for by a lot of very helpful and friendly people and learned they were part of the GOSA community. We began subscribing to the Geyser Gazer Sput in 2007 and have enjoyed being part of the community ever since.

GOSA: How did your family begin geyser gazing?
Initially, we used the predictions provided by the National Park Service. We still remember waiting for Madison VC to open on our way from West into the basin to get some information and plan our day. Those were the days before we had the Internet! With the children still in a stroller we already tried to wait for at least Echinus, Daisy and Grand. We were so lucky that the boys were very patient.

But I think what really got us hooked in the first place was the nice atmosphere while waiting for Great Fountain. The anticipated eruption with sparkling diamonds combined with blue at the bottom just took our breath away. It was there where Jeff Davis and Lynn Stephens started teaching us where to look to make our “own” predictions and told us about other geysers not predicted by the NPS like Fountain and Artemisia. After that we got “fireworks” at Grand; rainbows at Beehive; thumps at Oblong; playful, never tiring Fountain; mystic, blue-green Artemisia; soaking, funny Fan and Mortar; and graceful, blue and high Morning. So many eruptions which brought us joy and delight, but also the feeling of awe and gratefulness. We always saw something new or interesting. Attached to almost every geyser are memories of people sharing knowledge and giving advice. Such an openness, especially towards foreigners, was what made it special and we feel like part of a huge family now.

Excerpted from The Geyser Gazer Sput, Vol. 32, No. 1, February/March 2018, by permission of editor Pat Snyder. Photo credit: Beth Chapple, June 23, 2013.

I’ve been privileged to see eruptions of all ten of the wonderful geysers mentioned here, even though I get only a very limited time in the Upper Geyser Basin each summer. The Altstidl’s mention of their children being patient reminds me of how my then-six-year-old granddaughter Lexi made no complaint about our hour-long wait for Grand Geyser to erupt; perhaps small children sense that something wonderful is about to happen.

You, too, can become a member of the now thirty-year-old Geyser Observation and Study Association. Write c/o Bill Johnson, PO Box 5031, White Rock NM 87547; email store@gosa.org; or sign up on the website: www.gosa.org.

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Broad and beautiful Hayden Valley is where today’s visitors are most likely to see herds of bison close to—or on—the road. The valley is named for Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden, born on September 7, 1829. He played a large role in the creation of Yellowstone National Park.

Trained as a medical doctor at Albany (NY) Medical School, Hayden served as a surgeon in the Union Army until 1865. However, he became interested in geology through collecting and studying fossils in the Dakota Territory and in 1867 began his government-supported geological surveys of the west.

During the summers of 1871, 1872, and 1878, the Hayden Survey studied the Yellowstone area systematically. The men observed and reported on many geological and other phenomena in voluminous reports. The report of Hayden’s first exploration was essential in convincing Congress to establish YNP in 1872.

Hayden’s love of geysers and hot springs reportedly could move him to tears. As an early guidebook writer observed: “He cannot compose himself in the presence of a geyser in eruption; but, losing recollection of the material world for the time, rubs his hands, shouts, and dances around the object of his admiration in a paroxysm of gleeful excitement.”

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Just for fun . . .

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I’m sharing my early afternoon thrill of tuning in to the Old Faithful Streaming Webcam at 1258 today, seeing that Beehive Geyser’s Indicator was spouting among the gorgeous colors of spring, and waiting only until 1305 for Beehive itself to erupt to its 150-to-200-foot glory, as it does once or twice a day.

Now that the park is open and predictions are posted, you can catch all the daylight eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser. There are also views from nine static webcams scattered around the park that you can look at by scrolling down below the map of Upper Geyser Basin to “Other Webcam Views. . . .”

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Announcing our photo contest

Categories: Flora and Fauna, Geysers, News
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We are pleased to announce our 2016 Yellowstone National Park photo contest! Our Giant Geyser frontispiece since the third edition was obtained in a similar contest. For the fifth edition of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook, to be published in 2017, we are looking for a new front cover photo and will consider additional photos for the back cover and the interior. Here are our ideas, but your photo may be considered if it is of a similar or nearby subject.

Possibilities for the cover, possibly with a rainbow

Beehive Geyser
Giant Geyser
Grand Geyser
Riverside Geyser
Unique shot of Old Faithful Geyser

Interior photos we would like

Geological

basalt lava flow near Calcite Springs
Canyon from Grand View
Clepsydra Geyser
Electric Peak
Emigrant Peak
Mount Moran (Grand Teton N. P.)
Norris Geyser Basin geyser or hot spring
Porcelain Basin overview
Rock Creek Valley or other Beartooth Range view
Twin Lakes

Living things

Harlequin Lake
Penstemon wildflower
Rosecrown or bitterroot flower

The deadline is coming very soon, August 19, 2016, so gather your recent, high-quality, high-resolution photos of Yellowstone (please, no more than five per entrant). Please read the further guidelines and rules here:
Yellowstone National Park Photo Contest. You are welcome to write to editor Beth Chapple at webmaster [at] yellowstonetreasures.com or author Janet Chapple at janet [at] yellowstonetreasures.com with questions about how to locate the pictures on our picture wish list.

We’re very much looking forward to seeing your photographs!

Here is a form you can use for entering. Put “Photo Contest Entry” in the subject line.
Photographer’s Name:
Residence:
E-mail address:
Twitter and/or Instagram handle:
Date of photo:
Photo subject:
Description:

—Editor Beth

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All about fountain-type geysers

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Geysers can be categorized as one of two types: cone and fountain. Let’s see what page 61 of Yellowstone Treasures has to say about fountain-type geysers.

Such geysers have a very broad pool rather than a cone or narrow vent, and they usually erupt in a series of bursts, sometimes beginning with a blue dome-shaped surge.

Great Fountain Geyser

Great Fountain Geyser (1996)

Great Fountain is perhaps Yellowstone Park’s largest fountain-type geyser. Eruptions usually range between 100 and 150 feet (30-45 meters) in height, and its vent is 16 feet (4.8 meters) across! In case you missed it, here’s Janet’s report on this blog about an early evening eruption of Great Fountain Geyser in 2014. She includes a video.

Another classic fountain-type geyser is Fountain Geyser, which may erupt as high as 100 feet (30 meters). Last year photographer and videographer Neal Herbert took a great short video of its eruption. Watch closely and you’ll see flashes of bright blue as steam bubbles explode and propel water from the crater (especially at the 50-second mark).

The most recent statistics of major geyser activity compiled by the National Park Service are from last November, “Current Activity of Selected Geysers.” When you travel there and want current predictions, you can either

  • call (307) 344-2751 or
  • follow @GeyserNPS on Twitter.

Great Fountain Geyser and Fountain Geyser are both in Lower Geyser Basin, but only the former is predicted, with an average interval of 10 hours 45 minutes (+/- 2 hours).

Find out more about geysers elsewhere on this website, including “Yellowstone Geyser Eruptions: How Do They Work?

—Beth, Publisher and Editor

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Let’s watch geyser videos!

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While we wait for Yellowstone’s winter season to open (that happens on December 15th), let’s enjoy learning what happens inside a geyser. I thank Jeff Cross for getting me started on this, with his link to a geyser eruption in New Zealand.

This led me to a 2009 video that I had somehow missed. Brian Davis explains geyser action in a remarkable animation, for which he hand drew each frame of the animations (sort of like for early Disney movies?).

Go Giant! Go Giantess! Go Fan and Mortar! Go Steamboat! These are all wonderful but erratic and uncooperative geysers in Yellowstone—I’ve never ever seen Steamboat.

Giantess Geyser

Giantess Geyser

Our mapmaker Linton captured this eruption on September 5, 2001. It now appears on page 98 in Yellowstone Treasures. I flew home from the park that year on September 10th. You know what happened on September 11th.

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What’s New, Fun, and Interesting in Yellowstone This Summer?

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Entering Yellowstone from the North Entrance may be a little tough going and not aesthetically pleasing for most of this year [2015], since there’s a humongous construction project going on to completely revamp the entrance area at the little town of Gardiner. But five miles and a thousand feet up the road to the south is Mammoth Hot Springs, and, in addition to seeing the springs along the Upper Terrace Road, I recommend spending an hour or so at the redone Albright Visitor Center. It has excellent hands-on dioramas of all of the park’s bigger mammals and kiosks for park orientation on the first floor. In the basement level, completely accessible with a new elevator, are great historical displays and the restrooms. For more about this see the Yellowstone Insider’s recent article.

One of Upper Geyser Basin’s most popular sites is the wonderfully regular Riverside Geyser. It almost always erupts every six to six-and-one-half hours. Here is the eruption I caught on my all-too-short visit to the park in mid June.


You can hear (1) a geyser gazer transmit by FRS radio the time of eruption to the Old Faithful Visitor Center, (2) the excited crowd,(3) the swishing of the main eruption, and (4) the rumbling of the side spouter that always accompanies Riverside’s eruptions. It always erupts quite a bit longer than this little video, which was edited for Granite Peak Publications by Jens Paape.

You can reach Artemisia Geyser’s beautiful pool and formation in one of two ways.Artemisia Geyser One is by walking beyond Riverside Geyser about half a mile up what used to be the main road and is now a rather rough trail past Morning Glory Pool (page 95 in Yellowstone Treasures) or by parking at Biscuit Basin and crossing the road to reach the other end of the trail from Morning Glory Pool. Up the hill in the distance in my picture is Hillside Springs, which old-time stagecoach drivers called Tomato Soup Springs.

I did not see any grizzly bears on this trip, but there are now enough of them in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem so that visitors are seeing them quite frequently. The national media covered the recent very unusual event where a grizzly climbed on the hood and sides of an occupied car, leaving some scratches but giving the occupants of the car the thrill of their lifetime and their own video.

One thrill of this visit for me was being assigned for three nights to what has to be the best room in the Old House of Old Faithful Inn (Room 229). It was inside the farthest east of the five dormer windows that span the third floor front of the inn. Two mornings I awoke to a swishing sound, opened the side window, and there was Old Faithful Geyser erupting for my private enjoyment!

For fishermen and others interested in what is happening with the fish in Yellowstone Lake these days, take a look at the Great Falls Tribune’s story about the good news regarding the struggle against illegally introduced lake trout.

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