WyoJones' Yellowstone Geyser Pages

WyoJones' Norris Geyser Basin Page

"...and behold! the whole country beyond was smoking with vapor from boiling springs,and burning with gases issuing from small craters,each of which was emitting a sharp whistling sound."--JOE MEEK, trapper,commenting on his stumbling on to Norris geyser basin in 1829. --(THE YELLOWSTONE STORY,vol. 1,by Aubrey L. Haines)

Selected Geysers Of Norris Basin



Steam from Dark Cavern Geyser

Porcelain Terrace

Constant Geyser



Porkchop Geyser


Steamboat Geyser

"Bastille" Geyser

Veteran Geyser

Monarch Geyser

Echinus Geyser



-- the photos on this page are copyrighted by Gregory (Wyo) Jones and can be copied or reproduced only with permission .

Visiting Norris Geyser basin is like visiting a friend who often changes hair color or clothing style, you never know what to expect, except that it will not be the same as last time you visited. Geysers pop up in new places; hot springs and geyser activity is dynamic. Rapid change is one thing that sets Norris apart from other basins but not the only thing. Norris is the hottest of all the basins in Yellowstone and one of the hottest in the world. Water temperatures here are hotter than in the rest of Yellowstone. Dr. C. N. Fenner of the Carnegie Institute drilled a research well near the museum in 1929. He found the steam pressure so great at 265 feet he was afraid the drilling rig might blow up. The well was abandoned and the water temperature was measured at 401 Fahrenheit (200C) at just 265 feet below the surface.

The basin is located near the northern rim of the Yellowstone caldera. Norris is named for Philetus Norris who was Yellowstone Park's second superintendent (1877-1882) and who was the first to provide detailed information on the thermal features here. The basin has two areas the Porcelain Basin on the north and the Back Basin on the south as shown on the GEYSER BASIN MAP.

Norris is noticeably different in appearance compared to Yellowstone's other geyser basins. The Porcelain Basin is stark and void of trees and most vegetation, and even the Back Basin area has little to no vegetation in the geyser runoff stream areas. The reason lies in the water itself. Large amounts of sulfur are present in the water. When the sulfur reaches the surface in the springs it is oxidized to form sulfuric acid. The pH's of the water is 4.5 or less generally. In the acidic water the siliceous sinter formed is spiny and not the rounded masses found around hot spring pools in other Yellowstone basins. The geyserite deposits are not as extensive here as in other basins and lacks large cone build-ups.

Also the pools and springs here have coloration different than other Yellowstone basins. Some pools are milky blue from dissolved silica in the water. This is common particularly on the southern edge of Porcelain Basin in pools like Sunday Geyser. The yellows seen in some pools can be native sulfur. Acid tolerant cyanidium algae gives some pools and runoff streams a lime green color while in cooler runoff streams particularly in The Porcelain Basin. Orangish cyanobacteria may be found in some springs. The entire appearance of the basin can change drastically each summer during a "disturbance" when geysers eruptions become more vigorous, new springs may form and the water in the springs and pools become muddy in color.





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WyoJones's Geyser Page.
Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 2006 [Gregory L. Jones]. All rights reserved.
Last Updated 03/09/06