Only one more lesson will be recited at present. I had just arrived in camp when they told me that the Splendid geyser, after two days of quiet, was showing signs of uneasiness. I immediately went out to study my lesson. There was a little hill of very gentle slopes, a little pool at the top, three holes at the west side of it, with a dozen sputtering hot springs scattered about, while in a direct line at the east, within one hundred and forty feet, were the Comet, the Daisy, and another geyser. The Daisy was a beauty, playing forty feet high every two or four hours. All the slopes were constantly flowing with hot water. This general survey was no sooner taken than our glorious Splendid began to play. The roaring column, tinted with the sunset glories, gradually climbed to a height of two hundred feet, leaned a little to the southeast, and bent like a glorious arch of triumph to the earth, almost as solid on its descending as on its ascending side. No wonder it is named “Splendid.”
Whoever has studied waterfalls of great height—I have seen nearly forty justly famous falls—has noticed that when a column or mass of water makes the fearful plunge smaller masses of water are constantly feathered off at the sides and delayed by the resistance of the air, while the central mass hurries downward by its concentrated weight. The general appearance is that of numerous spearheads with serrated edges, feathered with light, thrust from some celestial armory into the writhing pool of agonized waters below. In the geyser one gets this effect both in the ascending and in the descending flood.
Four times that first night dear old Splendid lured me from my bed to watch her Titanic play in the full light of the moon. During all this time not a hot spring ceased its boiling, nor a smaller geyser its wondrous play, for this gigantic outburst of power that might well have absorbed every energy for a mile around. Obviously they have no connection. Then my beloved Splendid settled into a three-days’ rest.
These are the essential facts of geyser display. There are very many variations of performance in every respect, I have seen over twenty geysers in almost jocular, and certainly in overwhelmingly magnificent, activity.
“To him who in the love of nature
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language.”
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
What is the power that can throw a stream of water two by six feet over the tops of the highest skyscrapers of Chicago? It is heat manifested in the expansive power of steam. Scientists have theorized long and experimented patiently to read the open book of this tremendous manifestation of uncontrollable energy. At first the form and action of a teakettle was supposed to be explanatory. Everyone knows that when steam accumulates under the lid it forces a gentle stream of water from the higher nozzle. This fact was made the basis of a theory to account for geysers by Sir George Mackenzie in 1811. But to suppose that nature has gone into the teakettle manufacturing business to the extent of thirty such kettles in a space of four square miles was seen to be preposterous. So the construction theory was given up.