Site Info

  • H.Koenig


Powered by
Movable Type 3.2


Monarch Geyser, Norris Geyser Basin, 1994.

Monarch Geyser, Norris Geyser Basin, 1994. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


Dark Cavern, Guardian and Ledge Geyser, Norris Geyser Basin, 1994.

Dark Cavern, Guardian and Ledge Geysers, Norris Geyser Basin, 1994. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, Pt. 2

Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, Part 2, 1997-2015. Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...


Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, Pt. 1

Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, Part 1, 1991-1993. Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...


Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, 1983-1994

Sawmill Group, Upper Geyser Basin, 1983-1994. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


History and Background
100 Meter Sputs

In 1984, Bill Pulliam wrote up a paper on his observations of New Crater/Steamboat Geyser entitled "The 100 Meter Sput." In it, he pointed out that only two features were known to have reached that height, the other being Waimangu Geyser at Waimangu, New Zealand. Many other features have reached 90 meters (300 feet), but in the past year, I've discovered references to a third eruptive feature that was estimated to erupt well over 100 meters.

My very rough measurements of New Crater/Steamboat Geyser eruptions have returned heights as much as 123 meters (405ft), and others have arrived at similar and even much higher heights.

Waimangu Geyser hasn't been active in over a century. It's not just dormant, it's gone, and won't be coming back. When we visited the Waimangu thermal area of New Zealand in 2019, the tourist trail between Frying Pan Lake and Inferno Cauldron goes right through the site of the geyser crater. We walked through there without realizing it. Only on our return trip out did we notice that unlike much of the rest of the crater, there was a large circular area where not much was growing. This is an area where otherwise the "bush" is thick where it's not been cleared for agriculture. What thermal activity there is in that area consists of sputs along the stream that empties Frying Pan Lake. I think there's little danger of Waimangu itself coming back to life.

What are the three hundred foot/ninety meter sputs? I've found references to a few of them.

The obvious ones are Giant Geyser and Excelsior Geyser in Yellowstone. There have not been reports of Giant erupting up to 300 feet although I've measured an eruption at 72 meters, and know I've seen higher.

Excelsior is said to have erupted to "as high as" 300ft, which would be 90 meters.

The first eruptions of Semi-Sentinial, north of Norris, were described as being around 300 feet.

Some say that Great Fountain superbursts can reach up to 250ft, but i've not heard of any hard measurements to support anything higher.

In Iceland, there's Geysir, said to erupt to up to 200ft in years past, but that's nowhere close to 90 meters.

At Dolina Geizerov, Grot was reported to have a horizontal throw of 250ft, but in a broad arc without a similar height.

In New Zealand, before the Ohaki Dam flooded the area, Orakeikorako had Minguini Geyser, which was described as erupting up to 295 feet. That's almost exactly 90 meters.

This past year I discovered references to a third "100 meter sput" feature.

In New Zealand there was an eruption of a feature to heights estimated well over 100 meters. That feature is S-721, located in Kuirau Park in downtown Rotorua. On the eastern side of the park are numerous muddy thermal features. These are mostly in a line south of the large, clear, boiling Kuirau Lake at the north end, and there is a second line of features perpendicular to that forming a sort of sideways "T". There are also a few hot holes here and there. The smaller features are surrounded by wooden fences, either as groups or individual springs, and the areas between them are mowed lawns or thick stands of trees. In the larger areas in the southwest quadrant of the park, there are athletic fields for cricket and rugby, and in the middle, parking lots have been used for a Saturday farmer's market. Since restrictions on well use were put in place in the 1980s, a number of buried features have reappeared at the western end of the perpendicular line of features, to the consternation of the landowners who build houses over some of them. Several of those lots on the west boundary have been incorporated into the park. It's definitely a unique thermal area.

From 2003 Master's Thesis by Ashley Cody, Univ. of Waikato, " Geology, History and Stratigraphy of Hydrothermal Eruptions in the Rotorua Geothermal Field"

On 26 January 2001 at c. 1600 hrs NZST, a hydrothermal eruption occurred from an acid sulphate pool in Kuirau Park, mapped as S721. Some 1200m3 of material (about 2000 tonnes) was erupted within about 4 minutes, with blocks of 1m diameter being thrown 70m to the northeast and blocks to 0.15m diameter being thrown to -110m, also to the northeast. This eruption was unusual because the eruption column was inclined to the east from vertical, and erupted debris was ejected to the east, with very little being distributed to the west, north or south. Breccia clasts were examined by Siako (2002) and an older hydrothermal eruption event was recognised by its cemented breccia clasts within the 26 January 2001 ejecta, although its source vent was not identified. [pg.28]

Peter Goodwin (ROC) was in the Aquatic Centre [southwest of the feature] at the time and a colleague called out to him to look at the eruption. He indicated an angle at which he looked up to its top, which equated to 25° or 30° over a distance of -250 m. This gives a height range of 117-144 metres. From his vantage point it appeared to be a vertical column, with big rocks falling out of the dark muddy column, which was surrounded in white steam clouds. [pg.49]

S721 was quite unnotable and without any progressive change throughout several spring surveys spanning 1920s until 1998. It is located at about U16 946361 (Map 3, Map Pocket), and on the afternoon of Friday 26 January 2001 at c. 1645 hrs it suddenly erupted into a powerful hydrothermal eruption. The eruption column was unusual in that it was strongly inclined off the vertical towards the east. It rose to about 100 m height and persisted for about 4-4.5 minutes, with large blocks emitted from amongst a dark muddy column and white steam cloud. A steady loud roaring noise accompanied the eruption, which appeared to be steady in its emission of fine ejecta. [pg.90]

At the time of eruption the weather was overcast and showery rain, with a strong westerly wind of about 20-30 kilometres per hour. It is estimated that 99% or more of eruption ejecta was dispersed in an easterly direction, with very little material landing to the north, south or west of the crater (Fig. 3.32). This ejecta deposit was aligned strongly to the east with two conspicuously separate axes of distribution. A fine wind borne plume of grey mud composed of silt to clay size particles was swept off along an axis of 082°. This formed a continuous ground cover to at least 200 metres distance, over and beyond Ranolf Street and over the Fletcher Challenge Rescue helicopter at its helipad up on Hospital Hill. The mud plume coated cars parked at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, about 1.5 km to the east. Aerial photographs and field studies confirmed the block ejecta dispersed along an axis of about 066°, with the wind-borne mud dispersed along about 082°. [pg.94]

There was also a short report on the eruption a few days later:

Near a road that goes through the park there had been a fairly quiet, murky pool about three meters across, not much different from all the other pools that dot this park. That feature, for 15 minutes in the afternoon of 2001 January 26, erupted to heights estimated well over 100 meters. When the activity subsided, the pool was now about 10 meters across, and left several debris fields across the park and onto a city street well over 100 meters away. [26 January 2001 - Eruption at Kuirau Park, Rotorua]

In 2006, another feature, S-615, to the east of S-721, had a similar eruption, although not as tall and destructive. From From 2006 Master's Thesis by Angela Louise Doherty, Univ. of Canturbury. "Blue‐sky eruptions, do they exist? Implications for monitoring New Zealand’s volcanoes."

A second, smaller eruption occurred in the park on 10 December 2006. This eruption lasted over an hour and ejected mud and blocks 15 m into the air, landing up to 30 m from the pool (New Zealand Herald, 2006). This eruption, from Spring 615, occurred close to the 2001 eruption of Spring 721 but was much smaller in size.

Unfortunately, despite spending several hours in the park during our visit there last year, recording video of the features, I didn't go past either S-721, and didn't know about S-615's past. They're now high on the list should I ever visit again. (S-615 is the large pool in the upper right of the photo, next to "JC's Fountain" monument.) Then again, imagine an eruption of New Crater/Steamboat in the middle of a city park, because that's what happened, and it could happen again.

Finally, here's a link to 30 minutes of video I took of our visit to Kuirau Park, Rotorua on 2019 January 21.

Note on pronunciation-- In Te Reo Maori, the language of the Maori iwi (tribes) of New Zealand, syllables of the words consist of an optional consonant followed by a vowel or vowel pair. No exceptions, even for imported, foreign words. There are only 12 consonant sounds. The letter pairs "wh" and "ng" are considered to be single consonants. The first, "wh" is now pronounced like a soft "f", but originally was more of a "fw" sound. The other, "ng" is described in a pronunciation guide as "sounds soft like singer, not hard like finger." So "Waimangu" should be pronounced Wai-ma-ngu, not Wai-mang-u or Wai-man-gu.


Drive from Old Faithful to Great Fountain, 1983.

Drive from Old Faithful to Great Fountain, 1983 Aug 26, by Paul Strasser

Loading video...


Crystal "Geyser", Green River, Utah. 2020 October 16

Crystal "Geyser", Green River, Utah, 2020 October 16. Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...


Champaign "Geyser", Green River, 2020 October 16

Champaign "Geyser", Green River, Utah, 2020 October 16. Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...


Activity Report
Green River Observations for 2020 October 17

This morning we checked out Woodside Geyser. This feature is located on private property, part of the old town of Woodside and now completely off limits. Based on memory and satellite maps, we figured our best opportunity to see anything of the feature would be from the Union Pacific railroad embankment to the west, just north of the bridge across the Price River. Photos online of the geyser from a few years ago show it erupting quite high, maybe 40 feet, which would mean it should be easily visible. Reports back then also made it sound fairly frequent, something in the range of two hours.

The old route of U.S.6 used to run right next to the geyser. It's location seems to be visible on the satellite map, and we eventually figured out where that area was visible from our embankment vantage point. It was between a couple of abandoned buildings.

Unfortunately, that area seems to have changed, It seems to have been torn up, with the tan formations disturbed and broken up. It seemed like there was some new (as in the last year or so) piping and plumbing around there, along with a couple of unweathered power poles. This is in contrast to the rest of the area, which has that weathered look. A tree visible in the photos from then appears now must be a stump. And nowhere did we see any evidence of water flowing or pooling or even damp areas.

Were there about 90 minutes before finally coming to the conclusion that the geyser there has been considerably altered, if not destroyed. No point in sticking around.


Activity Report
Green River Observations for 2020 October 16

Made a road trip to visit the cold water geysers of Utah along with the Keller family. I've never been to any before, so was all new to me.

Champaign Geyser is about a 25 mile drive south of Green River, Utah, mostly on well maintained gravel road. The washboarding on the road tended to get worse the farther one went. The feature lies just north of the San Raphael River, and we arrived there to find it in eruption.

It's a drilled well driven by carbon dioxide, with a water temperature barely above the air temperature. The vent is tiny, in the middle of a small semicircular cone built up from mineral deposits. Surrounding that is a broad platform with lots of terracing.

The nature of the eruption is unlike that seen when the water is boiling. The water ejected consists of a column of foamy water thrown to about a meter high, frequently cut off by gas causing droplets to be expelled up to three to four meters. These noisy cutoffs would also cause the formation of small water droplets, so we could even get an occasional rainbow.

The eruption continued for the half hour we were there, considerably weaker toward the end of the visit. Since the intervals seem to be something in the range of eight hours, there wasn't going to be another eruption until around sunset or later.

From there it was backtrack and head to Crystal Geyser. The road starts out as unmaintained but paved, then turns to gravel. Unlike Champaign, we weren't alone. There were a number of campers along the river, and people playing with their motorized toys came and went in waves.

It appeared that the last eruption had been a while, since much of the platform was dry, and there was only a little overflow. There are holes in the pipe making up the vent, and water would periodically flow more heavily from them. The intervals were about seven minutes. The water coming out was slightly foamy. There was visible distortion in the air over the vent from the gasses coming out. The foaming and gas bubbles could also be heard as we waited nearby.

There is a wide platform with numerous terraces and terracettes leading down to the river. These formations seem fairly strong, and some of the dry ones had dead tamarask growing on them, and scalloping was still visible. In the catch basins around the vent were numerous tiny to small rounded pebbles and stones. Most of the formations are a dark red or dark tan.

After a wait of about an hour, we witnessed some short, minor activity. This started with foaming from some small bullet holes in the casing. As the foamy water rose over the next minute, more holes, higher up, joined in. Finally there was some foaming about an inch high or so from the vent, lasting for about a minute. Then everything died down.

After another minor, and about 90 minutes later, activity started up again. This time, the foaming got stronger, and a true eruption started. This consisted of a column of foamy water about six to eight feet high, with a few bursts during the first minutes to about twelve to fifteen feet. At first we thought this might be just a strong minor, but as the activity continued, came to the conclusion that this is now the major activity. After about 20 minutes or so of this, we decided to leave, in part because it was mid afternoon, and the activity had attracted a lot of people.

It was instructive to see how people behaved here, when compared to what is considered normal and proper behavior among Yellowstone's thermal features. The most important difference is that here the water is not deadly. We saw multiple dogs off leash running through the shallow pool surrounding the vent. A few lapped at the water, but not for long, as I'm pretty sure the water isn't pleasant tasting. We saw children playing in it, and tossing the formation stones around. As the major started, there were several small children standing right next to the vent that needed rounding up. During the eruption at least two people doused their heads in the foamy spray. And that doesn't begin to take into account all the people wander all over the formations before the eruption.


Midway Bluff, 1983

Midway Bluff, Midway Geyser Basin, 1983 August 24. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


Observation Point and Solitary Geyser, 1983.

Observation Point and Solitary Geyser, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, 1983 August 24. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


Butterfly Spring, 2003.

Butterfly Spring, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, 2003 May 03. Video by Paul Strasser.

Loading video...


Mud Volcano, 2020.

Mud Volcano, 2020 August 11, Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...


Giantess Geyser, 2020 August 26

Giantess Geyser, 2020 August 26, Video by H.Koenig.

Loading video...