Yellowstone Park Geysers, Hot Springs, Fumaroles and Mud Pots
Yellowstone Hot Spring
Geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots are caused when surface water seeping underground is heated by a deep source of magma, and rises as superheated water. Some Geysers like the Excelsior Geyser can put out as much as 4,000 gallons per minute of water. Often the water reaches the surface in the form of steam and can cause severe burns if touched.
Geysers occur when underground constrictions increase the pressure of the water until it finally erupts.
Hot springs have no constrictions, so water rises cools and sinks.
The small amount of water in fumaroles flashes into stream before reaching the surface of the ground.
Yellowstone Hot Spring
Mudpots are acidic hot springs with limited water. The acid and micro-organism decompose surrounding rock into clay and mud.
Yellowstone Mud Pot
The hot spring and geyser trails can be broke up into 6 major areas
Guidelines for viewing Yellowstone parks natural wonders
Trails can be found throughout Yellowstone Park giving easy access to many of the hot springs, geysers and mudpots. These all have well marked trails and it is mandatory to remain on the trail while visiting the attraction. Many of these are handicapped accessible and are easily traveled by most people. During the winters these trails can ice up, so be careful not to slip.
It is illegal to through anything in the springs, geysers, and mudpots. Even throwing sticks and rocks is considered vandalism which can cause the vent to plug up. These items often become permanently cemented in place chocking off the water activity and disrupting, sometimes permanently the activity.
To protect the natural wonders of the park, you are not permitted to smoke, eat, drink or bring pets into any of the hydrothermal areas of the park, including the walkways that are provided to allow you to get a closer look are the features.
Parents should closely watch their children it is very dangerous to walk off the trails, at times there is only a thin crust of dry mud covering mud pots which can cause serious injury it a child falls in.
While many feel that bathing in hot springs produces a therapeutic benefit due to the mineral content in the water it is illegal to bath or step into the hot spring in Yellowstone.
It is important to remember that many of the gasses coming from these hydrothermal sites are toxic. At times the level of these gases can reach dangerous levels (hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide). If at any time while viewing these natural wonders you start to feel sick, it is strongly advised you leave the area immediately to an area with fresher air.
Water and steam from the vents can be mildly acidic. This can cause damage to delicate equipment like cameras, binoculars and glasses. These items should be protected from the steam and spray that will at times cross the walkways and pathes.
What causes Hot Spring Colors?
You can often get an idea of the temperature of the water in the hot springs by observing the color of the water. The beautiful colors of green, brown, orange and yellow come from the microorganisms that live at that temperature. Color water allows for the green and brown organisms to live, the distinctive yellow and orange color is the organisms that are able to live in hotter water. Very little is able to live in the near boiling water of the clear, blue hot springs so the water absorbs all of the colors of the spectrum except the blue that gets reflected for you to be able to see.