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  Vixen Geyser
Feature Type: Geyser
Geyser/Spring Type: Cone geyser

Basin
Norris Geyser Basin
Complex
Back Basin


Like many of the Norris geysers, Vixen's activity varies wildly from year to year. In a good year (2014-16 were all "good"), it erupts every few minutes to an hour or so; in a bad year, it just ... sits there. Eruptions, when they do occur, issue from a vent just a few feet from the boardwalk that is surrounded by rubble. It has been speculated that the original Vixen vent was a cone that was hacked off at its base and transported to the Smithsonian Institution. The current state of the vent neither validates nor refutes this conjecture. Certainly a cone of about the right size did suffer the indignity of being hauled off to the Smithsonian, but it is not clear whether it was Vixen's cone or not.

Most eruptions are "minor" and last under a minute, reaching a height of 20 feet or so. "Major" eruptions are of similar, perhaps slightly greater, height, but last considerably longer; durations of 10 minutes or more are not uncommon, and at least one major during the 2014-16 active period was observed to last the better part of an hour.

What to look for:
With Vixen, the question is not so much what to "look for," as what to _listen_ for. When in an active period, Vixen chugs and gurgles underground in a way that is clearly audible from the adjacent boardwalk. As an eruption approaches, the gurgling gets more vigorous and can be clearly heard to be rising in the plumbing system. Finally, the commotion pushes water to the surface, and within seconds, the eruption is on.







Click for a larger image


A major eruption of Vixen Geyser.
Taken during an eruption on September 29, 2001. The geyser was probably about 25 feet tall at the moment of the photograph. It was a beautiful thing... bright sun... sparkling spray. -- Greg McNeil


Click for a larger image


A minor eruption of Vixen Geyser.

 



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