The deposits from Cistern spring have created some beautiful terraces on the West side of the spring. These sinter terraces have been growing at the fantastic rate of up to 1 1/2 inches per year. In the process, several trees, now dead, have been entombed in the sinter. Rapid growth like this, though, is not that unusual in an acid area such as Norris. At times the terraces have been covered with beautifully colored cyano bacteria but at times, these organisms have been killed off by changes in water chemistry and temperature.
Cistern Spring is the only feature to have a known connection to Steamboat Geyser, located about 300 feet away and up the hill. During the 24 hours following a major eruption of Steamboat, Cistern will drop, sometimes only a half meter and other times until the crater is empty. It typically refilled in 3-4 days. At least twice, Cistern was seen to erupt at the start of a major Steamboat eruption. These eruptions of Cistern reached as much as 20 feet.