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WY - Ojo Caliente Earthcache

A cache by PathfinderMark&lookingUPward Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 04/29/2011
2 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

As an earthcache, there is no “box” or “container” to discover. Rather, with this cache, you discover something about the geology of the area. For more info, consult

For paperless cachers, the logging requirements are at the beginning of the description.

Logging Requirements:
Send the answers to #1-#5 to me through my geocaching profile.

1. List the name “GC2N8XW Ojo Caliente Earthcache” in the first line of your email. Also, list the number of people in your group.
2. How many bubbling points do you see within this spring? What is the approx size of the river-side pool?
3. Describe the smell of the steam at both locations! Based on the description, what mineral(s) are present to create this smell?
Location 2: N 44 33.775 W 110 50.319
4. Contrast the size and location of this hot spring with the first location. (elevation readings are helpful!)
5. Based on the distance between the pool and any growing plants, is this a “cool” or “hot” spring?
6. (Optional) Post a picture of yourself and your GPS with your log that shows you/gps at either of the waypoints.

I will only respond if you have incomplete logging requirements. Go ahead and log your cache

This Earthcache is located on a “side tour” from the main Yellowstone routes. From Hwy 89, go west on Fountain Flat Drive until you reach the parking area. The trail to the first location is handicap accessible. The second trail is gravel and graded, thus also wheelchair accessible for most wheelchairs. It is about a .3 mile trail each way, so leave yourself enough time!

The Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone:
The Lower Geyser Basin encompasses nearly 12 square miles, with most of the thermal features widely scattered in small groups. Some of the groups include the Fountain Group, Firehole Lake Group, White Dome Group, Great Fountain - White Creek Group, and the Imperial Group.

The Lower Geyser Basin possess a large variety of thermal features, including mud pots, geysers, pools, springs, and fumaroles. Great Fountain Geyser is one of the grand geysers in the Lower Geyser Basin. It erupts from a large, terraced platform with massive bursts exploding up to 150 feet high. White Dome Geyser does not have spectacular eruptive displays, but it does have one of the largest pink and white streaked cones in the Park.

Ojo Caliente:
Ojo Caliente is off by itself along the Fountain Flat Drive along which there isn't much else except for views of the Firehole River. Ojo Caliente means "hot eye" in Spanish and Ojo Caliente is one of the hottest of the hot springs in Yellowstone. The temperature of Ojo Caliente ranges from about 198.5 to 202 degrees Fahrenheit and it constantly boils. It is super-heated, alkaline and it would prove deadly to anyone who fell into it. However, likely because it is not on the “main thoroughfare” there is no boardwalk around it, simply some warning signs.

Why is it hotter than many of the other area springs? Most of it is because of earthquakes! In the early 1970s a series of earthquakes more severe than normal took place near the Firehole River headwaters. This region experiences about 200 quakes a year of up to 4.5 on the Richter Scale, but some of the quakes in the early 1970s reached 6.5 on the Richter. This opened up new or greater high temperature flows into the river, raising the daytime high temperatures to the high 80s by 1979. Thus, the "boiling" water has a "head start" towards is deadly temperatures. You can contrast this to the "cold" rivers in other parts of the park, where the water has to be super-heated from a mere 40-50 degree water. This higher-temperature basin of hot springs also have the highest levels of alkaline within Yellowstone Park. The question is why? According to Geomicrobiology Journal (volume 26, issue 5, 2009) the reason for this is because the higher the temps, the more microbes there are that transform arsenate into alkaline sinter. On the other hand, a 1998 Scientific article suggests that the increased oxidation of sulfur-rich water into alkaline happens primarily because of the rapid "bubbling" that is happening ALL the time, rather than primarily only during an eruption (as is the primary case in the Upper Basin). Go figure.

Though it doesn't really erupt the boiling water in this spring bubbles 12-20 inches high, and can bubble up as high as 2-3 feet and it boils and bubbles constantly. It is surrounded by a high heavy “concrete-like sinter” shelf composed of sulphur (hence the smell since the same minerals are IN solution in the spring.) About 100 gallons of water spill out over the edge of Ojo Caliente every minute. While you are along the Fountain Flat Drive you can continue to hike (or bike in this area) past Ojo Caliente to see more off the beaten path thermal areas of Yellowstone.

Congrads to DasinDog for FTF (First to Finish logging reqs) on June 15, 2011.

National Park Brochure “Lower Geyser Basin”

Yellowstone National – (visit link)

Science Journal 1998 (visit link)

Additional Hints (No hints available.)

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