As a girl, I remember whenever our family would walk around a geyser basin, I’d always want to know about the thermal features without the signs – and wanted to know not only about the big geysers, but the little ones as well. I know others feel the same way, so this starts the Small Stuff Series where I’ll cover what I’ve learned about some of the tiny geysers and smaller thermal features that often go ignored.

Today’s Small Thermal Feature is Split Cone that sits not far from Old Faithful and has tons of people who see it erupt up to a foot or two and yet we know virtually nothing of how long it erupts or even how long the interval is between eruptions.

Split Cone received its name for the crack that opens up on the top of the mound. You can see this somewhat on occasions on the streaming webcam, but the best view is actually from the Firehole River side of Old Faithful as you walk around the Old Faithful Loop. The photo below was taken with a zoom lens and cropped slightly, so it’s hard to spot unless you’re looking for it. In the summer mornings or cooler temperatures, you can often notice it by the column of steam rising from it.

It doesn’t erupt up very high – only a few inches to a foot or two – which is why it’s largely ignored. Most likely it isn’t related to Old Faithful or other thermal features, but that’s hard to say for certain with such little data available on it.

It’s often visible on the streaming webcam and yet we still know very little. If you take a look at the data entered for Split Cone on Geyser Times .org, you’ll see a lot of ‘ie’ observations (ie = already seen in eruption). That’s good, but a start time and end time would be more helpful.  So if you happen to catch a start or an end of an eruption – those observations are important – ideally both on a single eruption. Share them here or at Geyser Times.


Is there another small thermal feature you’d like to see featured in the Small Stuff Series? Let us know in the comments or drop Janet an email.


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