Get to know Depression Geyser

by | May 30, 2019

Depression Geyser is a geyser sensitive to earthquakes. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Depression Geyser and what to watch for when you’re waiting for an eruption.


Depression Geyser is located near Beehive Geyser on the lower part of the boardwalk loop around Geyser Hill. You can reach it by walking around toward the river behind Old Faithful Geyser until you reach the path that leads to the bridge across the river.


Named for how the geyser sits in a depressed area in the sinter (the rock formed by the silica in the thermal water), though it also seems to “get depressed” when there aren’t any earthquakes that jolt it back into action. From observations over the decades, it has been concluded that Depression Geyser does not share its water freely with other thermal features in the area.


Before an eruption, the water level in Depression Geyser cycles from overflowing to below overflowing. Some people watch a small spot in the overflow channel to keep detailed track of the amount of water overflowing. When the overflow is strong, watch for bubbles rising from the left side, as that’s the more common location to see the eruption start. However, there are two main vents, and splashes can come from either.

Moments before an eruption, those bubbles can increase, and the water level suddenly rises and floods the platform. After that, splashes from the eruption begin – unless it crashes. Some eruptions are quite strong and can reach up to ten feet. Others seem to barely turn over the water. Some eruptions have only the left vent active, others have both vents active. As the eruption continues, the water level drops in the crater. Some years, we see the eruptions finish with a right vent that joins in and sloshes the water around, sounding very much like a washing machine.

After the end of the eruption, water sits low in the crater and is still visible from the boardwalk. Depression will continue to cycle and slowly refill for the next eruption.


When jolted into more consistent action by an earthquake, it can be relatively easy to catch an eruption of Depression. Currently, though, we need more observations to know just how erratic it has become.