Eruption of Old Faithful
|Name origin||Named by Henry D. Washburn, September 18, 1870|
|Location||Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Teton County, Wyoming|
|Elevation||7,349 feet (2,240 m) |
|Eruption height||106 feet (32 m) to 185 feet (56 m)|
|Frequency||45 to 125 minutes|
|Duration||3 to 10 minutes|
|Discharge||3,700 US gallons (14 m3) to 8,400 US gallons (32 m3)|
Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name. It is one of the most predictable geothermal features on Earth,; since 2000, it has erupted every 44 to 125 minutes. The geyser, as well as the nearby Old Faithful Inn, is part of the Old Faithful Historic District.
On the afternoon of September 18, 1870, the 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."||”|
In the early days of the park, Old Faithful was often used as a laundry:
|“||Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan's men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds.||”|
More than 1,000,000 eruptions have been recorded. Harry Woodward first described a mathematical relationship between the duration and intervals of the eruptions in 1938. Old Faithful is not the tallest or largest geyser in the park; those titles belong to the less predictable Steamboat Geyser. The reliability of Old Faithful can be attributed to the fact that it is not connected to any other thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin.
Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons (14,000 to 32,000 L) of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet (32 to 56 m) lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 m). Intervals between eruptions can range from 35 to 120 minutes, averaging 66.5 minutes in 1939, slowly increasing to an average of 90 minutes apart today, which may be the result of earthquakes affecting subterranean water levels. The disruptions have made earlier mathematical relationships inaccurate, but have actually made Old Faithful more predictable in terms of its next eruption.
The time between eruptions has a bimodal distribution, with the mean interval being either 65 or 91 minutes, and is dependent on the length of the prior eruption. Within a margin of error of +/- 10 minutes, Old Faithful will erupt either 65 minutes after an eruption lasting less than 2.5 minutes, or 91 minutes after an eruption lasting more than 2.5 minutes.
Between 1983 and 1994, four probes containing temperature and pressure measurement devices and video equipment were lowered into Old Faithful. The probes were lowered as deep as 72 feet (22 m). Temperature measurements of the water at this depth was 244 °F (118 °C), the same as was measured in 1942. The video probes were lowered to a maximum depth of 42 feet (13 m) to observe the conduit formation and the processes that took place in the conduit. Some of the processes observed include fog formation from the interaction of cool air from above mixing with heated air from below, the recharge processes of water entering into the conduit and expanding from below, and entry of superheated steam measuring as high as 265 °F (129 °C) into the conduit.
|Images of Old Faithful Geyser|
- "Old Faithful". Yellowstone Geothermal Features Database. Montana State University.
- "Old Faithful". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Bauer, Clyde Max (1947). Yellowstone Geysers. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming: Haynes, Inc. OCLC 1517713.
- "Old Faithful Geyser". Old Faithful Area Tour. National Park Service.
- Old Faithful, Geyser Observation and Study Association, 2011-08-17
- Langford, Nathaniel P. (May–June 1871). "The Wonders of the Yellowstone". Scribner's Monthly. II (1-2): 123.
- Winser, Henry J. (1883). The Yellowstone National Park-A Manual for Tourists. New York: G.P. Putnam Sons. p. 46.
- Bauer, Clyde Max; Marler, George (1939). "Old Faithful, An Example of Geyser Development in Yellowstone Park" (PDF). Northwest Science. 13: 50–5.
- Woodward, Harry R. (1939). "Season Report on the Naturalist Activities at Old Faithful Station".
- Milstein, Michael (September 14, 1999). "Old Faithful slows, but grows". The Billings Gazette. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2007.
- Chapple, Janet (2013). Yellowstone Treasures. Lake Forest Park, WA: Granite Peak Publications. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-9706873-8-8.
- "Old Faithful". Geyser Observation and Study Association.
- Hutchinson RA, Westphal JA, Kieffer SW (1997). "In situ observations of Old Faithful Geyser". Geology. 25 (10): 875–878. Bibcode:1997Geo....25..875H. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1997)025<0875:ISOOOF>2.3.CO;2.
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