White Dome Geyser Earthcache
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Firehole Lake Drive is one of the few places in Yellowstone that you can watch geysers from your car. Located along this short one-way road are some beautiful geysers. White Dome erupts from one of the largest sinter mounds in Yellowstone. The road cuts so close to Pink Cone Geyser that it actually cuts through part of the sinter mound of this beautiful geyser. Firehole Lake Drive is a worthwhile side trip.
Named by the 1871 Hayden Expedition, the name is descriptive of the white-colored deposits found in the area. The sinter cone, built upon an older hot spring mound. It is an older cone built up by spray. The orifice is now less than four inches in diameter and continued internal deposits may seal it up. An eruption occurs moments after splashing begins. A favorite of early visitors, it became a symbol of Yellowstone's' impressive beauty. It was often drawn and photographed by early explorers and visitors giving it some fame beyond the park. White Dome is a conspicuous cone-type geyser located only a few feet from Firehole Lake Drive, and accordingly, seen by many visitors to the park as they wait for eruptions of nearby Great Fountain Geyser.
Its 12-foot-high geyserite cone is one of the largest in the park. Its eruptions are unpredictable, but generally occur with intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Intervals between 20 and 35 minutes are most common. Temperature 188°F. Eruptions typically last 2 to 3 minutes and reach heights of about 30 feet (9.1 m), the maximum height being attained early in the eruption. As usual for cone-type geysers, the play is continuous for most of the eruption's duration, and begins and concludes with a brief steam phase intermixed with liquid spray.
Although it is overshadowed in eruptive height and power by Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser is a significant feature that was used as an emblem by the old Yellowstone Library and Museum Association, now the Yellowstone Association. White Dome remains a good "poster" candidate, its' massive cone and elegant eruption one of the high points of a visit to the park.
The thermophilic bacterium Thermus aquaticus, important because it produces an enzyme used in polymerase chain reaction laboratory procedures central to modern molecular biology, was first isolated from Mushroom Pool, a non-eruptive hot spring a few hundred feet from White Dome Geyser.
White Dome is the largest member of the "White Dome Group," a cluster of features bisected by Firehole Lake Drive that includes at least six other geysers as well as several non-eruptive springs. Gemini Geyser and Crack Geyser, across Firehole Lake Drive from White Dome, also erupt comparatively frequently, and can be observed from the parking area for White Dome, while the other members of the White Dome Group erupt only rarely, are difficult to see from the road.
Fountain geysers erupt through a large vent with a wide opening that can look like a hot spring. Water bursts in many directions.
Cone geysers erupt in a narrow jet of water through a slim vent, usually from a cone shaped formation.
Formation of a Cone:
Splashing and spraying during each eruption, thermal water is still building White Dome, after traveling underground through silica-rich volcanic rhyolite, the water deposits silica as it splashes over the cone, forming spiny, bulbous masses of geyserite. More and more bumps form on this gnarly, ancient cone as White Dome grows older and more massive.
Inside the immense cone is a narrow vent. Each time thermal water bursts through this small passageway, silica is deposited on its walls. Very gradually, White Dome’s vent is growing narrower.
An array of minerals and thermophiles creates a tapestry of color around White Dome’s vents.
As with all geothermal area's within the park, please stay on the boardwalk at this site.
To get credit for this cache, send an email to the owner with answers to the following:
1. How many people in your group?
2. White Dome has formed on an older formation, describe the differences between the older formation and the newer White Dome.
3. What is a thermophile? What are some of the colors of thermophiles found at this location?
4. The Firehole Lake Drive is on the edge between the Quaternary Rhyolite flows and the glacial gravels (this area was covered by glaciers 13,000 years ago). Looking at the area at these coordinates. What kind of evidence to you see that will tell you if this area is part of the flows or covered by the glacial gravel deposits. What else do you see on the ground in this area?
Please Note: Any log that does not have an email/message to CO with answers to the above questions will be deleted.
Posting a picture of you and your group is optional, but also fun.
White Dome Earthcache posted with permission from Yellowstone National Park.
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum