Old Faithful

Yellowstone Geophysicist To Present Old Faithful Findings In Jackson

Geophysicist Robert “Bob” B. Smith will be presenting new findings on Old Faithful Geyser tonight in Jackson, WY.

The event (“The Anatomy of Old Faithful and New Findings on the Yellowstone Hotspot”) is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST at the Jackson Campus of Teton Science Schools, according to Jackson Hole News & Guide. The address is below:

700 Coyote Canyon Road
Jackson, WY 83001

There will be free admission to the lecture. And the findings Smith has hinted at could prove to be nothing short of seismic, changing our general understanding of how Old Faithful (and other geysers) work. From the Guide:

“It’s been quite the career … exciting and exhilarating,” Smith said about his time studying Yellowstone’s geologic processes.

And extensive. Smith, a resident of Moose, has been researching Yellowstone for 59 years and is not ready to put down his seismographs.

“I think I may have set some kind of record,” Smith said. “But to tell you the truth, we make a new discovery there every year.”

This year is no exception. Smith and his team conducted a study of Old Faithful last November that produced the first subsurface images of the landmark. The project, which involved the placement of 200 seismographs around Old Faithful, revealed a few surprises about the geyser’s plumbing.

“We found that the hot water that comes out of Old Faithful’s orifice originates hundreds of meters away in deep reservoirs,” Smith said. “It’s not under the actual surface of the geyser.

Smith tells the Guide he first became interested in Yellowstone’s geology and seismology shortly after the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake, which rocked the region and altered many of Yellowstone’s thermal features. For instance, it briefly turned Sapphire Pool into a torrential geyser, which in turn scrubbed away many of the delicate “biscuit” formations that fringed Sapphire’s edge.

Since then, Smith has been furthering knowledge and understanding of Yellowstone’s geology through numerous projects, including a book co-authored with science writer Lee J. Siegel entitled Windows Into The Earth. He has also been furthering science education in the region, according to the JH News & Guide:

Smith has earned a reputation as the world’s leading expert on the Yellowstone and Grand Teton geologic area. One of the biggest benefactors of his studies has been Teton Science Schools. Ted Major, who founded the education center in 1967, formed a bond with Smith, who has been leading geologic lectures and field trips for the school since 1973.


“Bob’s deep knowledge on the subject matter really sets him apart,” said Nick Delmolino, the Science Schools’ marketing and communication director. “He’s a very engaging speaker.”

Delmolino said the school’s founders wanted the institution to be backed by strong scientists with a passion for the school’s mission. And nobody continues to fit that mold better than Smith.

“I may not be going out and doing the things I used to,” Smith said. “But the Science School has been very dear to my heart. I’ve always felt it has been a great school for experiential education.”

Tonight’s lecture will be the first public discussion of the Old Faithful project and the team’s findings. A large crowd is expected.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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