Saturday we visited the West Thumb Geyser Basin which overlooks Yellowstone Lake. The hot springs and hydrothermal vents of West Thumb actually extend into the lake warming the near shore waters of this section, but not the lake as a whole, it averages 45F during the summer. We won’t be doing any swimming in Yellowstone Lake.
The West Thumb bay area is a volcanic caldera left over from an eruption some 174,000 years ago and sits within the greater Yellowstone Caldera. The main caldera is the remnant of a volcanic eruption about 640,000 years ago. The lava flows from this eruption shaped much of the landscape of the Yellowstone area.
The various thermal features in the basin have been given names. One of the more interesting ones is the Fishing Cone. In the 19th Century explorers told tales of catching fish from the lake and turning around and dipping them into the cone to cook them on the line. This is the definition of fresh cooked fish. As more visitors came to the area in the late 1800’s, it was popular activity to get your picture taken with a cook’s hat and apron dipping your fish into the geyser that they called the “Chowder Pot” of Fish Pot”. Because of burns to the visitors and damage to the cone this practice was banned. The cone was underwater when we visited it because of high springtime lake levels.
Abyss Pool is one off the deepest hot springs in the park at 53 ft. It’s turquoise blue to emerald green. This pool has occasionally erupted since the late 80’s, but has been quiet since 1991. Eruptions of hot water were seen to be as much as 80 ft and sending steam plumes high into the air.