Yellowstone's Canary Spring Is Dormant | Big Horn Basin Media

Yellowstone’s Canary Spring Is Dormant

Written by on August 10, 2020

A Yellowstone thermal feature has gone dormant.

In a Facebook post, Park staff confirmed that the Canary Spring is no longer sending thermal water cascading down its flanks. The Canary Spring is one of several, smaller springs incorporated into Mammoth Hot Springs, named for its bright yellow color due to the high amount of sulfur-dependent filamentous bacteria that live on the travertine deposits surrounding it. Within the last few weeks, the amount of water emanating from the spring has precipitously and noticeable drops, with the travertine flanks being nearly bare.

While this may be unfortunate, the canary isn’t permanently in the coal mine. Canary Spring has a well-documented history of dormancy periods, going back as far as 1884. It was entirely inactive from 1914 to 1924, and saw several periods of inactivity from 1925 to 1932. As recently as 1991, there was even a small “spouter” geyser in the spring. Its last documented dormancy was in 2006, when it stopped flowing for a grand total of 24 hours before bubbling up again.

Yellowstone staff are confident in this current dormancy, but they have no way of knowing how long this period will last. But it’s not a point of concern or alarm – just a part of the ever-changing nature of Yellowstone National Park.

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