GeothermalScenery

57 images of geothermal features from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming,
including a detailed presentation of the multi-chromatic Mammoth Hot Springs.

Yellowstone National Park contains over one half of the world's geothermal features, fueled by the
energy released from magma below Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano in North America.

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Geothermal Scenery          Old Faithful Geyser Eruption          Assorted Yellowstone Scenic

Rivers and Waterfalls of Yellowstone          Grand Teton National Park

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Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

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GeothermalMist_GeyserCreek_1262


Geothermal Mist Geyser Creek 1262

GeothermalMist_GeyserCreek_1264


Geothermal Mist Geyser Creek 1264

Geothermal mist at sunrise in the Geyser Creek area, halfway between Norris Junction
and Gibbon Falls on the Grand Loop Road in the “goosenecks” area of the Gibbon River.
There are 300 geysers in Yellowstone National Park, among the 10,000 geothermal features.

MidwayGeysers_FireholeRiver_0458


Midway Geysers Firehole River 0458

The Midway Geyser Basin on the Firehole River contains two of Yellowstone's largest geothermal features:
Excelsior Geyser Crater and Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

A geyser is a hot spring which intermittently discharges water and steam. Water is heated by magma
near the surface. The boiling water raises the internal pressure, forcing superheated steam and water
through the internal plumbing (fractures and fissures) of the geyser, from which it then violently erupts.
If the internal plumbing is damaged by especially explosive eruptions, the geyser becomes inactive.

MidwayGeysers_FireholeRiver_0416


Midway Geysers Firehole River 0416

MidwayGeysers_FireholeRiver_0438


Midway Geysers Firehole River 0438

The Firehole River was named by early trappers for the geothermal steam which made it appear to be on fire.
One of two major tributaries of the Madison River, the Firehole is a fly-fishing paradise with brown and rainbow trout.

MidwayGeysers_FireholeRiver_0420_16x9


Midway Geysers Firehole River 0420 16x9

Geothermal steam rises above the Midway Geyser Basin off the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park.

ExcelsiorGeyser_FireholeRiver_0462


Excelsior Geyser Firehole River 0462

Steam rising above the Excelsior Geyser Crater, an inactive geyser that still manages to release
4500 gallons of 200 degree F. water per minute (6 million gallons per day) into the Firehole River.
When it was active between 1878 and 1890, eruptions would reach from 100 to 300 feet high. The
geyser awoke after 95 years for a 46 hour period in September 1985, with eruptions of 30-75 feet.

ExcelsiorGeyserBoardwalk_FireholeRiver_9542


Excelsior Geyser Boardwalk Firehole River 9542
(908 KB)

ExcelsiorGeyserRunoff_FireholeRiver_9541


Excelsior Geyser Runoff Firehole River 9541
(1022 KB)

There are a number of runoff channels to the Firehole River from Excelsior Geyser. Above is a large-volume
channel surrounded by spectacular bacteria mats which enters the river alongside the Midway boardwalk.

ExcelsiorGeyserRunoff_FireholeRiver_0429


Excelsior Geyser Runoff Firehole River 0429

Small-volume channels carrying runoff from the Excelsior Geyser into the Firehole River.
The runoff channels are surrounded by colorful thermophilic (heat-loving) cyanobacteria mats.

ExcelsiorGeyserRunoff_FireholeRiver_0433


Excelsior Geyser Runoff Firehole River 0433
(1043 KB)

ExcelsiorGeyserRunoff_FireholeRiver_9532


Excelsior Geyser Runoff Firehole River 9532
(739 KB)

Excelsior Geyser was once the largest active geyser in the world, but the explosive eruptions in the 1880s
are thought to have damaged its internal plumbing, and aside from some small eruptions in 1946 and 2000
and the somewhat larger ones in 1985, it has become a large hot spring, releasing 200 degree F. water.

ExcelsiorGeyserRunoff_FireholeRiver_9533


Excelsior Geyser Runoff Firehole River 9533

Steam rises above near-boiling runoff water from Excelsior Geyser as it enters the Firehole River.

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Direct Links:

Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

Geothermal Scenery     Old Faithful     Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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Fountain_PaintPot_Yellowstone_7139


Fountain Paint Pot Yellowstone 7139

Fountain Paint Pot is a mud pot in the Lower Geyser Basin north of Midway Geyser Basin.
This part of the Lower Geyser Basin has all four types of geothermal features in Yellowstone
(mudpots, hot springs, geysers and fumaroles). Fumaroles are basically steam geysers, and
are the driest of the features. If a little more water is present, the hydrogen sulfide gas emitted
from underground sources becomes sulfuric acid, which breaks down the stone into clay.
The mud, driven by subterranean gases, erupts from below and forms small mud-cones.

SilexSpring_Yellowstone_7143


Silex Spring Yellowstone 7143

Silex Spring is a hot spring below Fountain Paint Pot. The blue pool is is surrounded by silica shallows
and a rim of silica mixed with thermophilic bacteria mats which become more colorful in the runoff areas.

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_0612


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 0612

The geothermal area at Mud Volcano and Sulfur Cauldron in the Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park.
The features in this area are mostly mud pots and fumaroles, as there is little water available for geysers or
hot springs. Fumaroles are steam vents, caused by ground water boiling away before it can be refreshed.

DragonsMouth_Spring_9095


Dragon’s Mouth Spring 9095

A column of steam rises above Dragon’s Mouth Spring in the Mud Volcano area
in the Hayden Valley of Yellowstone National Park. Dragon’s Mouth Spring has had
a number of names over the years, such as the Gothic Grotto and The Belcher. The
local Crow Indians saw the steam as the snorting of an angry bull bison. In 1912,
an unknown visitor gave the feature its current name based upon a tongue-like
 wave of water which surges out of the mouth of the cave. This wave used to
 splash water as far as the boardwalk. Activity has decreased since 1994.

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_0613_16x9


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 0613 16x9

The hydrogen sulfide gas dissolved in the water, metabolized by cyanobacteria, is converted to
sulfuric acid which dissolves the surface soil, creating pools of clay and mud. Gases exploding
through the mud form cones and craters, making the Mud Volcano area smell like rotten eggs.

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_0615pano


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 0615 pano

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_0620


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 0620

Some of the grasses in the mud pool are stained a reddish orange by colonies of cyanobacteria.

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_0629


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 0629

Pools of clay and mud, craters and unearthly vegetation in the Mud Volcano area in Hayden Valley.

MudVolcano_HaydenValley_9092


Mud Volcano Hayden Valley 9092

Cracked mud surrounds craters in the mud pools, while sulphuric steam rises from waters which are
rimmed with brightly colored grasses stained by colonies of cyanobacteria in the Mud Volcano area.

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Direct Links:

Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

Geothermal Scenery     Old Faithful     Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is a group of nearly 100 hot springs and travertine terraces
adjacent to Fort Yellowstone near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
The travertine deposits range in age from the late Pleistocene to the present, and
most of the current major hot springs have been intermittently active since 1871.
 

Mammoth Hot Springs is located 5 miles inside the north entrance of Yellowstone
National Park, at the site of historic Fort Yellowstone. Yellowstone was formed in 1872,
but after several years it became obvious that the Interior Department could not administer
the park effectively. For the first five years, there were no funds or staff and poaching of bison,
 elk and pronghorn antelope and vandalism of park resources were rampant. In 1886 the Army
took over administration of the park and built a camp next to Mammoth Hot Springs, later
expanding the camp into Fort Yellowstone. The Army developed many practices which
were later adopted by the National Park Service in 1916. The Army turned over the
administration of Yellowstone to the newly formed National Park Service in 1918.

LibertyCap_MammothHS_0529


Liberty Cap Mammoth Hot Springs 0529

Liberty Cap is a 45 foot cone at the northern end of Mammoth Hot Springs.
It is the remains of a hot spring whose plumbing remained open for hundreds
of years. Its internal pressure was high enough to raise water to a great height,
allowing mineral deposits to build continuously, creating dense layers of travertine.

LibertyCap_MammothHS_0534


Liberty Cap Mammoth Hot Springs 0534

Liberty Cap was named by the 1871 Hayden Survey party for the Phrygian caps worn in the
Western Provinces of the Roman Empire and during the French Revolutionary War. The soft
conical caps came to symbolize freedom and the pursuit of liberty, thus the name Liberty Cap.
At some point, either the water found a more convenient channel to erupt through or the travertine
sealed the surface opening and the spring became inactive. It is not known when it became extinct.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_9230


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 9230

Palette Spring is named for the colorful hillside of amber, brown and orange caused by the presence
of different thermophilic (heat-loving) cyanobacteria. Water flows from the terraces above down a steep
ridge, depositing deep layers of travertine in several interesting and colorful patterns along the hillside.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6667


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6667

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6770


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6770

Collapse feature in the  travertine at the base of Palette Spring in soft light on an overcast day (above left),
in partial overcast with some direct sunlight (above right), and in full sunlight in the late afternoon (below).

Collapse features are formed when water flowing through near-surface channels weaken the overlying
travertine until the undercut deposits collapse under their own weight.  These are common at Mammoth.
Water flowing over the edge deposits small stalactites along the edge of the opening. Notice at the
left center that there is a large conical stalagmite formation growing at the bottom of the cavern.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_0543


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 0543
(905 KB)

Different levels of mineral content and different bacteria affect the color of the travertine at Palette Spring.
This image was taken four months after the two above. Note the difference in the length of the stalactites
to the left of the stalagmite growing at the bottom. Eventually they will meet and close the cavern mouth.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6670


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6670

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6767


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6767

The chromatic travertine face of Palette Spring in soft diffused light and in partial sunlight.
Note the dead trees which have been buried in travertine along the edges of Palette Spring.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6671


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6671

A collapse feature forming at the base of Palette Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6672


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6672

Steam rises above the multicolored travertine face of Palette Spring on an overcast day.

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Direct Links:

Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

Geothermal Scenery     Old Faithful     Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6674


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6674

Close detail of travertine at the base of Palette Spring at the northern end of Mammoth Hot Springs.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6685


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6685

Dead bushes embedded in travertine on the face of Palette Spring on an overcast day.

PaletteSpring_MammothHS_6764


Palette Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6764

Sunlight reflects off steam rising from the chromatic face of Palette Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs.

PaletteSpring_DeadTrees_MammothHS_6768


Palette Spring Dead Trees Mammoth Hot Springs 6768

Close detail of dead trees and a dead bush embedded in the multi-hued travertine
on the face of Palette Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

GeothermalShadows_MammothHS_0552


Geothermal Shadows Mammoth Hot Springs 0552

Shadows on the multi-colored bacteria mats in the terrace above Palette Spring.

TravertineScream_MammothHS_6751


Travertine Scream Mammoth Hot Springs 6751

An interesting formation in the travertine face below Mound Terrace.
The expression of agony reminds me of The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The circular mouth is an elongated collapse feature like those shown further above.

MinervaTerrace_MammothHS_0556


Minerva Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 0556

Multiple layers of travertine atop the underlying limestone at Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Minerva Terrace, like many terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs, is formed of multitudes of scallop-shaped
terracettes where small pools formed behind fissure ridges at the edge of a face and gradually grew. The
water flowing over the edge forms stalactites which gradually fills in the base of the projecting terracettes.

Minerva Terrace was named for the Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts. Derived from the Etruscan
goddess Menrva, from the 2nd c. BC on, Minerva was equated with the Greek goddess Athena, and was
a part of the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, which replaced the Etruscan Archaic Triad of
Menrva, Tinia and Uni. Minerva sprang full-sized from the head of Jupiter, with weapons. A painful birth.

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Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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MinervaTerrace_MammothHS_6758


Minerva Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6758

MinervaTerrace_MammothHS_6761


Minerva Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6761

Minerva Terrace is built up of travertine deposited when the hot water dissolves the underlying limestone.
The water deposits the calcium carbonate in small crystals on the surfaces over which it flows, forming the
travertine. Early tourists used to leave behind objects in the pools to allow them to be coated with travertine.

Minerva Terrace has been dormant for several years. Its once colorful surfaces are now monochromatic.

CleopatraTerrace_MammothHS_6695_16x9


Cleopatra Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6695 16x9

Cleopatra Terrace is in the Lower Terraces, just above Palette Spring and just below Minerva Terrace.
Confusion related to the intermittent nature of springs at Mammoth has caused three different springs to
be called Cleopatra Spring and Terrace (the original Cleopatra Spring is now called Minerva Spring).

CleopatraTerrace_MammothHS_6701


Cleopatra Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6701

Note the well-defined stalactite formations on the multi-colored face at the upper left of the image above.
The colored area from the upper left to the lower right is where water is flowing and bacteria thrive. The
monochrome area at right center is dry. As the travertine dries it loses its color and begins to crumble.

JupiterTerrace_MammothHS_6714


Jupiter Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6714

MainTerraceFace_MammothHS_6702


Main Terrace Face Mammoth Hot Springs 6702

On the left is Jupiter Terrace, and at right is the travertine covered face below the edge of the Main Terrace.

MainTerrace_MammothHS_6742


Main Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6742

A series of terracettes forming on the Main Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

In flat areas like these, small pools form and travertine precipitates around the edge, holding the water in the
slowly rising pool. Algae forming in the groups of large scallop-shaped terracettes turn the water reddish-brown.

MainTerrace_MammothHS_6745


Main Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6745

Detail of the runoff areas and terracettes on the Main Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.

MainTerrace_MammothHS_6747


Main Terrace Mammoth Hot Springs 6747

Close detail of travertine terracettes on the Main Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs.

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Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

Geothermal Scenery     Old Faithful     Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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NewBlueSpring_MammothHS_6736


New Blue Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6736

New Blue Spring on the Main Terrace is a highly variable feature that can be active or inactive several times
during the course of a year.

NewBlueSpring_MammothHS_6706


New Blue Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6706

NewBlueSpring_MammothHS_6741


New Blue Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6741

Detail shots of New Blue Spring on the Main Terrace and the central pool which gives it its name.

CanarySpring_MammothHS_6720


Canary Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6720
(713 KB)

Located on the Main Terrace, Canary Spring is named for yellow sulfur-dependent filamentous bacteria
growing in the spring. Canary Spring is one of the most regularly active springs in the Main Terrace Group.

CanarySpring_MammothHS_6722


Canary Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6722
(1310 KB)

CanarySpring_MammothHS_6723


Canary Spring Mammoth Hot Springs 6723
(930 KB)

Yellow filamentous bacteria in Canary Spring gave it its name. The sulfur-dependent cyanobacteria can
form interesting patterns. These two images and the image at left below are highly detailed (note file sizes).

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Bacteria Mats Mammoth Hot Springs 6718
(854 KB)

BacteriaMats_MammothHS_6728


Bacteria Mats Mammoth Hot Springs 6728
(607 KB)

Bacteria mats above Canary Spring arrayed in interesting patterns.

BacteriaMats_MammothHS_6724


Bacteria Mats Mammoth Hot Springs 6724

Filamentous ends of bacteria mats above Canary Spring, on the Main Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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Direct Links:

Yellowstone Geothermal Scenery                                   Grand Tetons

Geothermal Scenery     Old Faithful     Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lamar Valley & Misc Scenics         Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Yellowstone Rivers and Waterfalls page.

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