Much of our current understanding of Yellowstone's geothermal areas comes from research drilling by the USGS during 1967 and 1968. Thirteen wells were drilled in thermal areas around the park. Scientists collected waters and rocks, measured temperatures and pressures and performed other tests to characterize the shallow subsurface at Yellowstone.
Most wells were plugged and abandoned, but a few were left open for future scientific tests and sampling. One of those wells, the Y8, was located at Biscuit Basin, 2 miles north of Old Faithful. In November 1992, a valve at the ground surface failed, leading to a blowout, an uncontrolled eruption of steam and hot water.
The USGS and Yellowstone National Park worked with a drilling contractor to control the flow and plug the well. The lead scientist, Robert Fournier, used video taken by the drilling contractor, Tonto Services, to create this fascinating 28-minute-long film. It is followed by a short news story by CNN, also from November 1992. Fifteen years later, we felt that the video was of sufficient scientific and historical interest that it was worth publishing as a USGS Open-file report, where it can be accessed into the future. Enjoy!
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Taming of a Wild Research Well in Yellowstone National Park during November 1992