The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 368 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

In the Gibbon Basin is a geyser of late origin.  In 1878 this consisted of two steam holes, roaring on the side of a hill, that looked as if they had recently burst through the surface; and the gully leading towards the ravine was at that date filled with sand, which appeared to have been poured out during an eruption.  Dead trees stood on the line of this sand floor, and others, with their bark still remaining, and even with their foliage not lost, were uprooted hard by, everything indicating that the “steamboat vent,” as it was called, was of recent formation.  In 1875 it had no existence, but in 1879 the spouting spring—­which first opened, it is believed, on the 11th of August in the preceding year—­had “settled down to business as a very powerful flowing geyser,” with a double period; one eruption occurring every half hour, and projecting water to the height of 30 feet; the main eruption occurring every six or seven days, with long continued action, and a column of nearly 100 feet.

The New Geyser in the same basin is also of quite recent origin.  It consists of two fissures in the rock, in which the water boils vigorously.  But there is no mound, and the rocks of the fissure are just beginning to get a coating of the silicious geyserite deposited from the water, so that it cannot long have been spouting.  Again, in the Grotto Geyser—­in the Upper Geyser Basin of Fire Hole River—­the main or larger crater is hollowed into fantastic arches, beneath which are the grotto-like cavities from which it is named, which act as lateral orifices for the escape of water during an eruption.  It plays several times in the course of the twenty-four hours, and sends a column of water sixty feet high, the eruption lasting an hour.  As yet, however, the force of the water has not been sufficient, or of sufficiently long duration, to break through the arches covering the basin or crater.  The Excelsior—­claimed to be the largest of its order, which sent water nearly 300 feet into the air at intervals of about five hours, and of such volume as to wash away bridges over small streams below—­was not, until comparatively recent years, known as a specially powerful geyser.  But if it had for a time waned in importance, its immense crater, 330 feet in length and 200 feet at the widest part, shows that at a still earlier date it was a gigantic fountain.  In this deep pit, when the breeze wafted aside the clouds of steam constantly arising from its surface, the water could be seen seething 15 or 20 feet below the surrounding level.  Yet into the cauldron of boiling water a little stream of cold water, from the melting snow of the uplands, ran unceasingly.  Since 1888 this great geyser has been inactive.

The Castle Geyser is so named on account of the fancied resemblance which its mound of white and grey deposit presents to the ruins of a feudal keep, the crater itself being placed on a cone or turret, which has a somewhat imposing appearance compared with the other geysers in the neighborhood.  It throws a column usually about fifty or sixty feet high, at intervals of two or three hours, but sometimes the discharge shoots up much higher.

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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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