Tall Geysers

What is the largest geyser in the world?



This is a difficult question. It depends on what your definition of large is. Is it the geyser with the greatest eruptive height? Is it the geyser with the largest discharged volume of water during an eruption? Is it the geyser with the widest column of water?   The answer will depend on what you want to consider.   This page lists the 28 of the largest geysers in the world   by height. The list includes only those geysers with eruptions greater than 110 feet.  "What are the geysers with the highest eruptive heights?" Even answering this question is a difficult task. Does the geyser need to be capable of eruptions or do you want to consider extinct geysers like Waimangu which have been naturally destroyed ?  Do you include geysers, like Abuse Spring,  whose eruptions of world class heights lasted for a very short period of time. Do you include geysers. like " Incline", whose first few eruptions were greater than 100 feet but whose normal eruption is now much smaller. Do you include geysers, like Grot Yubileinyi, whose eruption would be much higher if they shot straight up instead at an incline. I have included all of the above but if you chose not too you would have a viable but smaller list.

Even with that said, determining a geysers height is a difficult proposition. Geysers tend to have bursts. Do you measure the highest burst or a average burst? Getting a measurement of a burst that lasts a second can be difficult if not impossible. Wind can also shear off the top of an eruptive column making it appear shorter. In  my experience measurements by sight or dead reckoning are usually dead wrong, It is difficult to compare the eruption to nearby objects since geysers usually sit on a silica mound some distance from trees or other tall objects. In order to get good measurements one must measure the distance from the geyser to the measuring and observation points. This is almost impossible if one is confined to boardwalks as one should be to protect oneself and the thermal features. With that said the measurements listed below are the best available and are from the literature. I do not know how they were measured or how accurate they are but there are the best available.

Many say Steamboat geyser is the largest geyser in the world. Is it? DEPENDS... on what the meanings of large and is are. ( Guess I should have been a politician)

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GEYSER NAME HEIGHT RANGE LOCATION COMMENTS
Waimangu (extinct) 600 - 1000 feet Lake Rotomahana, New Zealand This geyser was born after a large volcanic eruption 1888. The geyser started erupting in 1900. The spectacular eruptions lasted for 4 years before the geyser was destroyed by a landslide.
Steamboat

(major eruption)

250 - 390 feet Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA Last major eruption 19__. It is the largest geyser in the world capable of an eruption. It has common minor eruptions.
Excelsior 30 - 300 feet Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA In 1880's this geyser played at heights of usually 100 feet with some eruptions reaching 300 feet. Water columns were nearly as wide as they were tall. The last 300 foot eruption was in 1890. Recent eruptions have been 30 to 75 feet high.
Minquini (extinct) up to 295 feet Orakei Korako Geyser Field, New Zealand This geyser's location was buried by water of a manmade reservoir which destroyed any chance it will erupt again.
Giant 150 - 250 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Last eruptions in 1997. Hope for more soon. Go Giant Go!!!!
Great Fountain 100 - 230 feet Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Eruption of over 150 feet at this geyser are rare, however, possible. Normal eruption are in 70 to 100 foot range currently. It erupts almost daily.
Splendid 50- 220 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Last active in 1997, this geyser usually plays to heights of around 100 plus feet. However it has had the occasional 200 foot plus eruption.
Grand 150 - 200 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This geysers erupts once or twice a day to heights of at least 150 feet which makes it one of the tallest regularly active geyser in the world. It is also predictable making it the largest predictable geyser in the world which makes it easy to see.
Beehive 150 - 200 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This geysers also erupts once or twice a day to heights of at least 150 feet which makes it one of the tallest regularly active geyser in the world.  It is not a predictable as Grand.
Geysir 100 - 200 feet Haukadalur Geyser Basin, Iceland The namesake of all geysers is currently dormant. It is sometimes induced to erupt but these eruptions are not to the heights of non-induced eruptions.
Giantess 100 - 200 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Eruption are rare sometimes just once a year but they shake the guests at the nearby Old Faithful Inn. It is a truly powerful geyser.
Monarch

(major eruption)

100 - 200 feet Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA The last major eruption was in 1911. It has had rare minor eruptions since then, The last in 1994.
Morning 60 - 200 feet Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This  geyser, last active in 1994, can have bursts that reach 200 feet. Such bursts are rare. Heights of 100 to 150 feet are more common.
Old Faithful 90 -185 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. The most eruptions daily of any of the geysers listed above it on this list. Wind can shear of the top of  its eruptive column and shorten its eruption height.
Orakeikorako up to 180 feet Orakei Korako Geyser Field, New Zealand This geyser's location was buried by water of a manmade reservoir which destroyed any chance it will erupt again.
Gamli Strokk (extinct) up to 150 feet Hveravellir, Iceland This geyser erupted in the 1800's. Not even a trace of its vent can be found today.
Round 50-150 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N.P., USA. A rare geyser last seen in 1990. It had major eruptions of around 159 feet in 1933, and from 1966 to 1981.
Drain 5 - 150 feet Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This geyser can not be reached by foot and is only visible from a distance from the road When active can reach up to 150 feet.
Union 100 - 125 feet Shoshone Geyser Basin Union often has long periods of dormancy. It currently is in a dormant period that started in 1977.
Fan 100 - 125 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This geyser has active periods when it erupts in concert with mortar. It is usually  inactive but has periods of activity every year or two.
Ledge 80 - 125 Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA This geyser is very irregular as is usually inactive. It has occasional eruptions, The last period of much activity was 1996.
Abuse Spring 15 - 125 Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. This is a strange name for a geyser on the list of tallest geysers in the world. It is located near the Old Faithful   Inn and  inn employees threw junk and debris into this geysers pool. The first known eruption was in 1959 following the Hebgen Lake earthquake. The eruption was not observed but much debris was thrown from the pool. In May of 1977 the geyser started erupting to heights of a least 90 feet with some bursts to 125 feet, This activity last one week. It has only had minor 15 to 29 foot eruptions occasionally since. But for one week it was among the most powerful geysers in the world.
Echinus 10 - 125 feet Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA Usually this geyser plays to heights of 20 to 40 feet. However during disturbances at Norris it has had rare eruptions as high as 125.
Sapphire Pool 6 - 125 feet Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Until the 1959 earthquake the pool had infrequent 6 foot eruptions. Four weeks after the earthquake the pool start having huge 125 foot eruptions. The eruptions' power slowly subsided. By the mid-1960's the eruption height was down to 25 feet. Today it has rare small eruptions.
Velikan (Giant) 90 - 120 Dolina Geizrov (Geyser Valley), Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia It has a 5 hour interval and a duration of about a minute.
Kaleidoscope 1 - 120 feet Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA. Located near Drain Geyser, this geyser can not be reached by foot and is only visible from a distance from the road It is, therefore, hard to distinguish from Drain at that distance. It has periods of dormancy.
"Incline" 20 - 110 feet Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone N. P., USA It first appeared in 1990 with the first few eruptions reaching about 110 feet. Since the first few eruptions, heights have been between 20 and 70 feet.
Grot Yubileinyi (Jubilee Grotto) 100 feet** Dolina Geizrov (Geyser Valley), Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia **This geyser should possibly occur higher in the list. It erupts at an angle to 100 feet but goes out over 250 feet horizontally. How high would this geyser shoot if it erupted straight up instead of at an incline? It is a powerful geyser in the league of Giant and Beehive.
Do you know of any other geyser that should be on this list? E-mail me.    

 


This page dedicated to Jlizzie whose question caused me to get off my duff and on to the computer to finish this page which had been " under construction" longer than the roads in Yellowstone. And that's a long time unless you are speaking geologically.

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Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 2006[Gregory L. Jones]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/26/06