US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Professional Paper 1717, 1-23, (2007)


Instrumentation on a weir on Tantalus Creek, which captures 98 percent of the surface discharge of Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park (the Park), records discharge and water temperature every 10 minutes and telemeters recorded data every hour via GOES satellite. Plots of discharge from June 1998 through mid-November 2003 record frequent—and often large—changes in

Data recorded during five eruptions of Steamboat Geyser (May 2000, April 2002, September 2002, April 2003, and October 2003) allow calculation of the time and duration of the eruptions, as well as amounts of water released by each eruption.

Water discharge at the weir also recorded the eruptions of Echinus Geyser, one of the major attractions in Norris Geyser Basin. Prior to late September 1998, Echinus erupted regularly approximately every 50 minutes. During the winter of 1998, and probably coincident with a major increase in thermal activity in the Ragged Hills area about a kilometer west of Echinus, Echinus ceased to erupt.

A basin-wide thermal event that began in April 2002 was recorded. During this event—which was not directly witnessed—the discharge from the basin increased in minutes from 5 ft3 per second (cfs) to more than 10 cfs, while water temperature at the weir increased from 25°C to 70°C. In order to account for this temperature increase, the increased discharge from the basin would have to have been close to the boiling point. The discharge and temperature returned to normal in a day or two.

Chloride and sulfate concentrations in water samples collected from 1988 to late 2002 show that these concentrations are independent of stream discharge

This study proves the utility of satellite telemetry of hydrothermal and geochemical data from remote areas.