Erupting geysers are one of Yellowstones best known features. In fact, half of the world’s active geysers are located in the National Park. Peggy and I photographed lots of them when we visited last fall on our four month trip around the US.
The reason behind Yellowstones record breaking number of geysers is that much of the park is located in a giant caldera, a collapsed volcano. Semi-molten rock exists in some areas as close as 2-5 miles below the surface. This extremely hot rock heats ground water flowing near it and creates Yellowstone’s hydro-thermal features including geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots. We featured hot springs two weeks ago. Today is the geysers’ turn. They erupt when the super hot boiling water creates pressure in channels leading to the surface that erupts as steam out of a vent. As the pressure is released the geyser subsides until the process is repeated. They come in all sizes. The most famous is Old Faithful, given its name due to the regularity of its eruptions.
32 thoughts on “An Explosive Subject… The Geysers of Yellowstone”
Sometimes the little geysers are the most interesting.
Almost fun in their gurgling burgling way. 🙂
oh I love Yellowstone so so much. Wonderful post Curt 🙂
Thanks, Sylvia. Appreciated. Yellowstone is truly one of the world’s natural wonders. –Curt
Always like to see Yellowstone pictures even if a billion have been taken before. On our 2018 visit, it was crowded, we were lazy, so we sat on the second floor porch of the Lodge to watch Old Faithful [which seems to be less faithful each year].
That would be a nice perch! And yes, the old gal is getting older. We get that. 🙂
Geysers are also to be seen here in Australia although not as spectacular as in your photos.
I haven’t seen the geyser activity in Australia, Gerard, but Peggy and I have visited the hot springs in New Zealand.
I visited Yellowstone in 1995 and saw Old Faithful. The geysers in Iceland are equally dramatic and you can get closer.
Iceland, Like Yellowstone is filled with hydrothermal activity. You can get closer to other geysers in Yellowstone than you can to Old Faithful. The park service wisely maintains some distance though. Otherwise there would always be a tourist who insisted on sticking his hand in the scalding hot water to see how hot it is and then, probably, suing the park service for not stopping him or her.
Let someone else try it is my advice.
It’s akin to feeding a bear a hot dog from your fingers. “Hey, this will make a great selfie. Whoops.”
Here’s a question: have Old Faithful’s eruptions changed in frequency over the years? Are they more or less frequent, or have the intervals changed? I suppose fifty years or so isn’t a long enough time to judge such things, geologically, so I wouldn’t expect much change from Peggy’s first time there, but I wondered if there are records from farther back that indicate some change.
‘Fumarole’ was a new word for me. The ‘fum–‘ part suggests its nature, but I decided to wait for your post to learn more about them. It did remind me of some lyrics from one of my favorite Pink Martini songs, Sympathique:
Je ne veux pas travailler,
Je ne veux pas déjeuner,
Je veux seulement l’oublier,
Et puis je fume.
Yes, there’s always a song!
Here’s what I found, Linda: “In the 1870s, explorers noted that the time between eruptions was 60-70 minutes. This remained the case through the 1950s, but then began to lengthen to the average today, which is 94 +/- 10 minutes between eruptions.” There is a sign next to the geyser that states when the next eruption is expected, give or take 10 minutes. There is a lot of seating on one side of the geyser to accommodate several hundred people. We were off to the side.
And yes, there is always a song. Grin.
That was the question I had too. I’ve only seen it once, back in 77, and at that time it was still rated at 60-70 minutes and was pretty faithful about it.
PS to Linda: Pink Martini is a local band for us, probably one of the most successful to come out of Portland. Interesting that they’re so popular in foreign countries (which may include Texas 😉 )
Laughing about the pink martinis, Dave. 🙂
We’ll probably get there next summer (2024), Curt, and combine it with a trip to the Tetons. I’m fascinated by geology and Yellowstone is the place for it. Thanks for the photos of the geysers. I didn’t realize there were so many! It sounds like you two had a great time. 🙂
I know you will love it. D. And the Tetons. My next post (after another Rhine River post) will be on them, probably the most spectacular range of mountains I have ever seen.
When I first saw the Tetons I started crying. It was so emotional and for no particularly reason, except that I felt like I was coming home. I can’t wait to get there again.
What a lovely reaction, D.
It was very embarrassing at the time, but I embrace it now.
Curt, I love the thought of the gysers having their own personalities – a stunning natural phenomen and no wonder The Old Faithful has been so well-photographed over the years! Yeah, what a wonderful place for a restaurant job as young, lucky Peggy and I bet the visit brought back some lovely memories for her!
The visit did indeed bring back some memories for Peggy, including summer romance. 🙂 I have two more posts coming on Yellowstone, one featuring the Mammoth Hot Springs area with their travertine terraces and the other the scenic beauty of the park. It is truly a special place.
What great pictures and memories of Peggy’s working days getting to witness old faithful daily Curt. I bet you have thousands of pictures yourself.
It’s truly fascinating that it has been erupting every 10 minutes for so long. Nature is an incredible mystery, no matter how I try to understand it. You had a clear beautiful day and I love how each picture is different and reflects different images whether they are dancing, tall, skinny or short and narrow. Safe travels until we meet again my friend! 😎🥰
It’s so neat that Peggy used to work in Yellowstone. What a wonderful early life experience. Your photos are wonderful. I especially like the first little fellow you highlighted, and how the blue of the water stands out against the backdrop. I also love the image of all the water and steam venting, where you counted 30 geysers. It definitely helps show a viewer how much is going on there. At the site of Old Faithful, I so enjoyed taking my time, wandering around the trails, and being surprised and delighted (also startled) to spot geysers going off at random and unexpected times.
I was fascinated by the fact that micro-organisms are responsible for the colors, Crystal. Different species have different heat tolerances and are found in different parts of the hot springs. The pigments of color they have depends upon their exposure to the sun. The deep blue can tolerate substantial heat and are found in the deeper pools, the browns, less heat and are found around the edges. You may have already known that but it was news to me.
Peggy loved her Yellowstone experience that included considerable wandering around with her friends and first serious boy friend. She even won second prize in a talent contest singing folk songs and got into a bar using a fake ID. LOL.
Oh gosh, these are great stories for Peggy to remember! Thanks for letting me know about the micro-organisms. I may have learned that at some point, but it’s news to me today. Fascinating.
Peggy had fun sharing, Crystal. It was a special time in her life. Some of those micro-organisms date back to the very beginning of life on earth.
I’ve never been to Yellowstone, but it sure did remind me of Rotorua in New Zealand. Amazing thermal fields there too.
I’ve been to Rotorua a couple of times, Alison, and totally agree.
such a magical place. thanks for sharing your photos.
Thanks. Appreciated. I agree totally.