Giantess Geyser

Giantess Geyser awakens after six-plus years

Taking another break from a long slumber: we saw a Giantess Geyser eruption for the first time since January 2014, a spectacular site broadcast worldwide via Yellowstone webcam.

Take a look at the eruption here:

Giantess Geyser is in the Upper Geyser Basin and was once recording eruptions every six months or so, but it’s been quiet in recent years. Before this week’s eruption, the last Giantess Geyser eruption came on January 30, 2014:

As befits the name, Giantess Geyser is pretty noisy when erupting and is known for a large spout some 200 feet high. In this case, Giantess erupted for some 40 hours before simmering down.

Here’s what explorer Nathaniel P. Langford wrote in The Discovery of Yellowstone Park:

Near by is situated the “Giantess,” the largest of all the geysers we saw in eruption. Ascending a gentle slope for a distance of sixty yards we came to a sink or well of an irregular oval shape, fifteen by twenty feet across, into which we could see to the depth of fifty feet or more, but could discover no water, though we could distinctly hear it gurgling and boiling at a fearful rate afar down this vertical cavern. Suddenly it commenced spluttering and rising with incredible rapidity, causing a general stampede among our company, who all moved around to the windward side of the geyser. When the water had risen within about twenty-five feet of the surface, it became stationary, and we returned to look down upon the foaming water, which occasionally emitted hot jets nearly to the mouth of the orifice. As if tired of this sport the water began to ascend at the rate of five feet in a second, and when near the top it was expelled with terrific momentum in a column the full size of the immense aperture to a height of sixty feet. The column remained at this height for the space of about a minute, when from the apex of this vast aqueous mass five lesser jets or round columns of water varying in size from six to fifteen inches in diameter shot up into the atmosphere to the amazing height of two hundred and fifty feet. This was without exception the most magnificent phenomenon I ever beheld. We were standing on the side of the geyser exposed to the sun, whose sparkling rays filled the ponderous column with what appeared to be the clippings of a thousand rainbows. These prismatic illusions disappeared, only to be succeeded by myriads of others which continually fluttered and sparkled through the spray during the twenty minutes the eruption lasted. These lesser jets, thrown so much higher than the main column and shooting through it, doubtless proceed from auxiliary pipes leading into the principal orifice near the bottom, where the explosive force is greater. The minute globules into which the spent column was diffused when falling sparkled like a shower of diamonds, and around every shadow produced by the column of steam hiding the sun was the halo so often represented in paintings as encircling the head of the Savior. We unhesitatingly agreed that this was the greatest wonder of our trip.

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