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Yellowstone's Solitary Geyser

A cache by Team FMA Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 9/13/2010
In Wyoming, United States
4 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

One of Yellowstone's most frequently erupting geysers, Solitary Geyser is a prime example of what happens when man tampers with nature. Please do NOT log this EC as found if you do not intend to submit your responses within 24 hours of logging the find! Please read the ENTIRE description before doing this EC. Thanks!

Yellowstone National Park's renowned Upper Geyser Basin is a complex system of geothermal features, with geysers being the best known of the different geological features found at this location. More than 25 percent of the world's geysers are found within a square mile here, and it is believed that the natural wonders of the Upper Geyser Basin are what led to Yellowstone being founded as the world's first national park.

The Upper Geyser Basin can be broken down into several geyser groups, each with their own unique eruption frequencies and durations. This Earthcache focuses on a feature located in the nearby Geyser Hill Group: Solitary Geyser. At first sight, Solitary Geyser appears to be a large, steaming hot spring. However, Solitary Geyser is one of the Upper Geyser Basin's most regular performers, its minute-long eruptions occurring every four to eight minutes to a height of approximately five feet. A surprisingly short geyser, considering its size, but there is a reason for that: until 1915, Solitary Geyser had been known as Solitary Spring. Its transformation to geyser is a prime example of what happens when man tampers with nature.

Please note the difficulty rating of this Earthcache. On-site observation and comparative research to similar nearby features will be required. If you are having difficulty with your answers, please visit the Old Faithful Visitors Center or join the park ranger-naturalist who leads walks/talks around Solitary. To receive approval to log this Earthcache, please email us the following:

1. How did human interference cause Solitary Spring to become Solitary Geyser? Extra applause if you can name the actual structure that was built, and a standing ovation if you can tell us when it was shut down.

2. How did construction affect Solitary Spring, causing it to transform into a geyser? Describe the geologic processes that caused this transformation.
PLEASE NOTE: We are asking what physically changed in the geyser's internal plumbing system as a result of question 1. How did what happened in question one change the internal plumbing system of Solitary Spring? What happened to the spring caused something else to happen... and that something else caused a change inside the spring's plumbing system that cause Solitary Spring to transform into Solitary Geyser.

HINT: The spring's transformation happened almost instantly, in a matter of minutes. There was no time for blockages to build up. PLEASE NOTE: Responding that "water boiled at a greater depth" is incorrect!
PLEASE ALSO NOTE: Apparently there is a park volunteer or a ranger telling visitors that tourists threw coins into the spring, causing it to turn into a geyser. THIS IS WRONG! We have notified the park's chief geologist about this and he promised to investigate.

3. Examine the shallower areas of Solitary Geyser. What colors do you see, and what causes these colors to exist?

4. Note the mineral deposits around the outer rim of Solitary Geyser (by outer rim, we mean the very outside of the geyser pool). Describe the shape of these mineral deposits. What do they look like? How big are they (use inches, centimeters, feet, meters, whatever measurement you believe to be correct). These deposits are made from a geyser-specific mineral, meaning a mineral found only at geysers. What is the name of this mineral? HINT: the name of the mineral and the shape of the deposits give these deposits their geological name. Solitary is one of the few places in North America where these deposits can be seen.

5. Optional:Post a photo of you or your GPSr with Solitary Geyser in the background. It doesn't have to be erupting at the time!

And now, a word from the Yellowstone Park Ranger:

Please remember to stay on the provided trail at all times. The ground around Geyser Hill and the entire Upper Geyser Basin is very fragile and at any time, a new geothermal system may make its appearance. For your safety and for the continued preservation of the geothermal features, please stay on the trail! The last thing you want to happen on your vacation is to be parboiled because you fell through the crust.

Team FMA created this Earthcache to share some of Yellowstone's geology with you, not to share a photo op with you. If you do not plan on submitting your responses within 24 hours of logging this Earthcache as found, then please do not log it as found; use the "write a note" option instead. We will delete any found logs if we do not receive your responses within 24 hours of receiving the found log. If you have submitted your answers, but some (or all) are incorrect, you'll have two weeks' time to correct your answers... and we are happy to give hints, but not give the answers away! Thank you for your cooperation.

Thank you for visiting our Earthcache!

Placement approved by
Yellowstone National Park

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Congratulations to Lord Mot and Baby-Girl on their joint FTF our Earthcache!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



437 Logged Visits

Found it 425     Didn't find it 1     Write note 9     Publish Listing 1     Owner Maintenance 1     

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 10/15/2017 11:06:39 PM Pacific Daylight Time (6:06 AM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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