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Old Faithful

Old Faithful
Eruption of Old Faithful
Name origin Named by Henry D. Washburn, September 18, 1870
Location Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Teton County, Wyoming
Coordinates [1]
Elevation 7,349 feet (2,240 m) [2]
Type Cone geyser
Eruption height 106 feet (32 m) to 185 feet (56 m)
Frequency 45 to 125 minutes
Duration 1.5 to 5 minutes
Discharge 3,700 US gallons (14 m3) to 8,400 US gallons (32 m3)
Southern section of Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name.[3][4] It is one of the most predictable geographical features on Earth, erupting every 35 to 120 minutes. The geyser, as well as the nearby Old Faithful Inn, is part of the Old Faithful Historic District.


  • History 1
  • Eruptions 2
  • Increasing interval 3
  • Measurement 4
  • Gallery 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


On the afternoon of September 18, 1870, the members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition traveled down the Firehole River from the Kepler Cascades and entered the Upper Geyser Basin. The first geyser they saw was Old Faithful. In his 1871 Scribner's account of the expedition, Nathaniel P. Langford wrote:

In the early days of the park, Old Faithful was often used as a laundry:


16-second video clip of an eruption

Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons (14,000 to 32,000 L) of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet (32 to 56 m) lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 m).[6] Intervals between eruptions can range from 45 to 125 minutes, averaging 66.5 minutes in 1939,[7] slowly increasing to an average of 90 minutes apart today.[8] The time between eruptions has a bimodal distribution, with the mean interval being either 65 or 91 minutes.

More than 137,000 eruptions have been recorded. Harry Woodward first described a mathematical relationship between the duration and intervals of the eruptions in 1938.[7][9] Old Faithful is not the tallest or largest geyser in the park; those titles belong to the less predictable Steamboat Geyser.[4]

Increasing interval

Over the years, the length of the interval has increased, which may be the result of earthquakes affecting subterranean water levels. These disruptions have made the earlier mathematical relationship inaccurate, but have in fact made Old Faithful more predictable. With a margin of error of 10 minutes, Old Faithful will erupt 65 minutes after an eruption lasting less than 2.5 minutes or 91 minutes after an eruption lasting more than 2.5 minutes. The reliability of Old Faithful can be attributed to the fact that it is not connected to any other thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin.[10]


Between 1983 and 1994, four probes containing temperature and pressure measurement devices and video equipment were lowered into Old Faithful. The probes were lowered as deep as 72 feet (22 m). Temperature measurements of the water at this depth was 244 °F (118 °C), the same as was measured in 1942. The video probes were lowered to a maximum depth of 42 feet (13 m) to observe the conduit formation and the processes that took place in the conduit. Some of the processes observed include fog formation from the interaction of cool air from above mixing with heated air from below, the recharge processes of water entering into the conduit and expanding from below, and entry of superheated steam measuring as high as 265 °F (129 °C) into the conduit.[11]


Images of Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Crater, 1872 William Henry Jackson 
1877 US geological survey of the Territories 
Albert Bierstadt, circa 1881 
Photo by W. H. Jackson, 1892 
Color, Photochromatic print, 1898 
Eruption, 1912 
Old Faithful on the 1916 Haynes Guide 
Old Faithful, by Ansel Adams in 1941 
Ansel Adams, 1942 
Eruption, 1948 
Old Faithful Vent, 1953 
Winter, 1969 
From Observation Point, 2003 
At peak of eruption, 2014 
From view of Visitor Center, 2015 


  1. ^ "Old Faithful". Yellowstone Geothermal Features Database.  
  2. ^ "Old Faithful".  
  3. ^ Bauer, Clyde Max (1947). Yellowstone Geysers. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming: Haynes, Inc.  
  4. ^ a b "Old Faithful Geyser". Old Faithful Area Tour. National Park Service. 
  5. ^ Winser, Henry J. (1883). The Yellowstone National Park-A Manual for Tourists. New York: G.P. Putnam Sons. p. 46. 
  6. ^ Chapple, Janet (2005). Yellowstone Treasures. Providence, RI: Granite Peak Publications. p. 79.  
  7. ^ a b Clyde Max Bauer and George Marler (1939). "Old Faithful, An Example of Geyser Development in Yellowstone Park" (PDF). Northwest Science 13: 50–5. 
  8. ^ "Old Faithful". Geyser Observation and Study Association. 
  9. ^ Harry R. Woodward (1939). "Season Report on the Naturalist Activities at Old Faithful Station.". 
  10. ^ "Old Faithful slows, but grows". Billings Gazette. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2007. 
  11. ^ Hutchinson RA, Westphal JA, and  

External links

  • "A day in the life of Old Faithful Geyser, as timelapse video". 
  • "Video Of Old Faithful".  
  • "Old Faithful". NASA  
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