Yellowstone's Old Faithful Geyser

 

grazing elk in front of Old Faithful gyser
Cow elk grazing below Old Faitful seem unimpressed by this geological wonder.

Old Faithful, the world°s most famous geyser throws about ten thousand gallons of water and steam up to one hundred seventy feet in the air faithfully. Each eruption lasts 1.5 to 5 minutes. When it erupts, it sprays 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water. Old Faithful was so named in 1870 by the Washburn-Langford-Doane geological expedition because it seemed to spout "faithfully" for about five minutes every hour or so. The size and frequency of the eruptions impressed them. In actuality, the eruptions occur more irregularly, with intervals varying from as much as half an hour to two and a quarter hours.

On the afternoon of September 18, 1870, members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition traveled down the Firehole River from the Kepler Cascades and entered the Upper Geyser Basin. The first geyser they saw was Old Faithful. In his 1871 Scribner's account of the expedition, Nathaniel P. Langford wrote: Judge, then, what must have been our astonishment, as we entered the basin at mid-afternoon of our second day's travel, to see in the clear sunlight, at no great distance, an immense volume of clear, sparkling water projected into the air to the height of one hundred and twenty-five feet.

"Geysers! geysers!" exclaimed one of our company, and, spurring our jaded horses, we soon gathered around this wonderful phenomenon. It was indeed a perfect geyser. The aperture through which the jet was projected was an irregular oval, three feet by seven in diameter. The margin of sinter was curiously piled up, and the exterior crust was filled with little hollows full of water, in which were small globules of sediment, some having gathered around bits of wood and other nuclei. This geyser is elevated thirty feet above the level of the surrounding plain, and the crater rises five or six feet above the mound. It spouted at regular intervals nine times during our stay, the columns of boiling water being thrown from ninety to one hundred and twenty-five feet at each discharge, which lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes. We gave it the name of "Old Faithful."
– Nathaniel P. Langford, 1871

Old Faithful Lodge stagecoach
Old Faithful Lodge

About a year after the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition, William Henry Jackson was the first to photograph the Old Faithful in action while accompanying the Ferdinand Hayden surveying expedition.

Old Faithful is a cone geyser, named for the cone-shaped mineral formation around its opening that makes it erupt in a narrow plume. Old Faithful is neither the biggest or most regular geyser in Yellowstone Park but is the biggest regular geyser. Throughout the years, it has become one of the most studied geysers in the park. It has been erupting in nearly the same way throughout the recorded history of Yellowstone. The result of such close observation is that Park Rangers are able to predict its eruptions fairly accurately. This makes Old Faithful geyser the easiest geyser in Yellowstone to observe an eruption. Rangers say that 90% of their predictions are within plus or minus 10 minutes. Old Faithful has rarely missed an eruption in over 120 years of its recorded history

To predict the time to the next eruption and the interval between is predicted using the duration of the current eruption. The duration of eruption is timed from the first heavy surge of water skyward at the start of the eruption until the last small splash at the very end. The longer the elapsed time of the eruption, the longer the interval until its next eruption.

To understand how Old Faithful Works imagine an underground hot spring reservoir filling up with drain water underneath a constricted exit. Then the hot earth boiling the drain water circulating underground, the boiling water creates steam which expands and with very little room in the underground reservoir there is no room for the added volume of the hot water and steam, pressure builds up eventually, the confined steam and water burst out of the narrow opening, spraying until the underground water reservoir is exhausted or the hot water and steam pressure drops.

Articles
Scientists divine secrets of Old Faithful geyser • Just in time for summer, a Silicon Valley scientist may have helped answer a question that puzzles millions of Western tourists every year: What makes Old Faithful so faithful?The world-famous geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts like clockwork, but the gap between each burst varies from year to year. That interval between eruptions appears to be linked closely with the amount of rain and snow the park receives, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Geology............."In years with more precipitation, there are more frequent eruptions," said lead author Shaul Hurwitz, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park..........Simply put,-------------More

 

Behive Geyser
Beehive Geyser: This geyser can lie dormant for a long time, but when it's erupting, it sends water up to 180 feet high, rivaling Old Faithful.

The Upper Geyser Basin's Geyser Hill

A short loop walk around Geyser Hill passes six geysers, a pool and a spring. Total distance around the loop is about a half mile.

Anemone Geyser: Anemone Geyser is a good place to watch an eruption cycle. Every seven to 15 minutes, the empty pool fills up and overflows. Large bubbles rise to the surface, and it erupts, up to ten feet high.

Castle Geyser
Castle Geyser's large cone rests on older platforms, and is one of the world's largest sinter formations.

Beehive Geyser: This geyser can lie dormant for a long time, but when it's erupting, it sends water up to 180 feet high, rivaling Old Faithful.
Giantess Geyser: When Giantess is in one of its eruption cycles, when it goes off twice hourly, up to 200 feet high.

The trail between Geyser Hill and Biscuit Basin is littered with geysers. They include:
Castle Geyser: Castle Geyser's large cone rests on older platforms, and is one of the world's largest sinter formations.

Grand Geyser: If the pool is full at Grand Geyser, hang around and you can see the world's tallest predictable geyser erupt, throwing bursts of water up to 200 feet in the air.

Giant Geyser: Giant Geyser has one of the tallest geyser cones in the world. In the Old Faithful area, geyser cones grow about one inch per century.

Riverside Geyser: One of the most picturesque and predictable Yellowstone geysers, Riverside Geyser spouts an arched water column over the river every six hours.

 

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