Norris Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park hot springs fumaroles steam

Location: Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming. US

This place in Yellowstone is one of the most amazing and breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen in my life. It completely blew me away, this photo doesn't do it justice! This area us called Porcelain Basin, and is the hottest and most acidic area in the national park.

This large region is set in a depression and contains dozens of small geysers, springs, fumaroles and other geothermal features. It is also a quite noisy area. All that steam and boiling water coming out those vents generates an incredible amount of noise. You can appreciate it better in this video

Seeing this photograph, one can understand why Yellowstone contains one half of the world’s hydrothermal features. Most of them are concentrated in Norris Geyser Basin.

Porcelain Basin is also the fastest changing area in Norris Geyser Basin, and siliceous sinter is one of the agents of change. If the mineral seals off a hot spring or geyser by accumulating in its vent, the hot pressurized water may flow underground to another weak area and blow through it.

Here you can see other cool photographs of Yellowstone

There are five different geothermal features in Yellowstone:
  • Hot springs: hot springs are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. Their plumbing has no constrictions. Superheated water cools as it reaches the surface, sinks, and is replaced by hotter water from below. This circulation, called convection, prevents water from reaching the temperature needed to set off an eruption. Many hot springs give rise to streams of heated water.
  • Geysers: geysers are hot springs with constrictions in their plumbing, usually near the surface, that prevent water from circulating freely to the surface where heat would escape. Increased pressure exerted by the enormous weight of the overlying rock and water prevents deeper water from boiling. As the hot water rises it is under less pressure and steam bubbles form. They, in turn, expand on their ascent until the bubbles are too big and numerous to pass freely through constrictions. At a critical point the confined bubbles actually lift the water above, causing the geyser to splash or overflow.
    • Fumaroles: they are the hottest hydrothermal features in the park. They have so little water that it all flashes into steam before reaching the surface. The result is a loud hissing of steam and gases.
    • Mudpots: They are acidic hot springs with a limited water supply. Some microorganisms use hydrogen sulfide (smells like rotten egg), which rises from deep within the earth, as an energy source. They convert the gas into sulfuric acid, which breaks down rock into clay.
    • Travertine terraces: they are formed from limestone (a rock type made of calcium carbonate). Thermal waters rise through the limestone, carrying high amounts of dissolved carbonate. Carbon dioxide is released at the surface and calcium carbonate deposited as travertine, the chalky white rock of the terraces. These features constantly and quickly change due to the rapid rate of deposition.