thumbnail

Conditions leading to a recent small hydrothermal explosion at Yellowstone National Park

Geological Society of America Bulletin

By:
, , ,

Links

  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time

Abstract

Porkchop Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park, was the site of a small hydrothermal explosion on September 5, 1989. The geyser column suddenly rose to a height of 20-30 m, followed immediately by the explosive ejection of sinter blocks up to 1.88 m in maximum dimension and formation of an irregular crater 13.9 m long and 11.7 m wide. The ejected blocks show a variety of siliceous deposits indicative of changing environments of deposition with time, and possibly of prior hydrothermal explosive activity at this site. Water samples from Porkchop were collected and analyzed once in the 1920s, again in 1951, ten times between 1960 and mid-1989, and once in January 1990 after the explosion. It is hypothesized that a sudden breaking loose of the constriction at the exit of the geyser tube, likely triggered by a seasonal increase in subsurface boiling throughout Norris Basin, allowed water and steam to be discharged from Porkchop much more rapidly than previously. This resulted in a drop in pressure within the geyser tube, causing water in adjacent connected chambers to become superheated. An ensuing rapid flashing of superheated water to steam within relatively confined spaces resulted in the hydrothermal explosion. -after Authors

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Conditions leading to a recent small hydrothermal explosion at Yellowstone National Park
Series title:
Geological Society of America Bulletin
Volume
103
Issue:
8
Year Published:
1991
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1114
Last page:
1120
Number of Pages:
7