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Geysers of the World   

Geysers of Yellowstone   



  Plate Geyser
Feature Type: Geyser
Geyser/Spring Type:

Upper Geyser Basin
Geyser Hill

Plate Geyser sits directly behind the large mound of Sponge Geyser. Because of this, it is hard to see Plate's pool from the boardwalk. Plate is a fountain-type geyser. Its bursting eruptions reach about 15 feet, its duration is about 5 minutes and its intervals range from 1 to 8 or more hours. It has been known to go dormant at times.

What to look for:
Prior to an eruption, the water will fill Plate's pool and bubbles will start to rise. Sometimes Plate will overflow for hours prior to the eruption and at other times it will just be reaching overflow when the eruption starts.

At a distance, Plate can be distinguished from its near neighbor, Boardwalk/Abrupt Geyser, by the bursting play of its eruption and by the shorter duration of the eruption.

Electronic Monitor Files
Plate eruptions for 1998.txtPlate eruptions for 1999.txt
Plate eruptions for 2000.txtPlate eruptions for 2001.txt
Plate eruptions for 2002.txtPlate eruptions for 2003.txt
Plate eruptions for 2004.txtPlate eruptions for 2005.txt
Plate eruptions for 2006.txtPlate eruptions for 2007.txt
Plate eruptions for 2008.txtPlate eruptions for 2009.txt
Plate eruptions for 2010.txtPlate eruptions for 2011.txt

Some of the temperature data used to derive the eruption times and durations used in this section were collected by Ralph Taylor under a National Park Service research permit, and the remainder was collected by personnel working for the Geology Department of the Yellowstone Center for Resources (including Ralph Taylor). The loggers are a combination of loggers owned by the NPS and Ralph Taylor. Analysis of the raw temperature data to extract the eruption data was performed by Ralph Taylor. The eruption time files on this website may be used provided that Yellowstone National Park is credited for the temperature data and Ralph Taylor is credited for the eruption times.

Activity Recorded by Data Logger - by Ralph Taylor  

Plate Geyser has been monitored electronically since 1998. Data from 1998 to mid-2002 covers only the summer months, generally from late June to early October, but since the mid-2002 we have attempted to monitor Plate all year. There are no significant gaps in the temperature record since July of 2002 until a sensor failed on 29 March 2008. There is a gap in the data from 1705 20 March 2008 to 1108 09 April 2008 (logger failure) and from 1919 24 May to 1027 27 May (logger filled). The record is complete from
that point to the latest download.

The sensor for Plate's logger is in the runoff channel relatively close to the vent, so there is a short delay from the visual start of eruption to the electronically recorded start, typically about one minute.

For most of the 1990s and the early 2000s Plate was a reliable, frequent performer on Geyser Hill. Mean and median intervals (available from electronic monitoring only in summertime until 2002) were consistently under three hours until mid-2003 and longer intervals were rare and generally under six hours. Beginning in 2005 Plate began having periods of inactivity lasting for many hours, some lasting for days. During these years thee short dormancies often ended with a long (for Plate) duration eruption, sometimes lasting 30 minutes or more as contrasted with the more normal (for Plate) five minute durations.

Plate became quite erratic in 2006 with only 337 intervals recorded for the year, and just nine eruptions after the end of July. Activity in 2007 and 2008 has been episodic with increased activity following Giantess Geyser eruptions in 2008.

Activity in 2011  
The overall statistics for 2011 are shown at Plate Geyser 2011 Statistics.

The interval graph shows all of the intervals for 2011. The graphs for the current year are updated about every six weeks from October to June and weekly from June to the end of September. The red diamonds show the eruption start times for Little Squirt Geyser. The Little Squirt eruption times are used as a surrogate for the so-called SMax (South [Geyser Hill] water level MAXimum), which is thought to represent a cyclic change in the hydrothermal energy on Geyser Hill. This hypothesis is described in an article in GOSA Transactions Volume IV titled Cyclic Hot Spring Activity on Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park—Graphical and Interpretive Descriptions of the Geyser Hill Wave, Diurnal Effects, Seasonal Disturbances, Random (Chaotic?) Events, and Earthquakes by T. Scott Bryan.

The green diamonds show the first eruption of each recorded Dome Geyser series. Activity in Dome geyser is also known to affect some other features on Geyser Hill.

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The next graph shows the intervals for the past few months at an expanded time scale.
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The graph at the right shows Plume Geyser's intervals for the past month.
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The next graph is a histogram of the distribution of intervals. Note that in this and the other histograms displayed here the labels shown on the X-axis represent the upper boundary of the class, not the midpoint. Geyser times are traditionally truncated. The graph at the right has class widths of 30 minutes. The bar appearing above the label "05:30," for example, contains intervals from 5h01m through 05h30m.
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The next graph shows the durations for 2011. In recent years the most common durations have been around six to nine minutes with occasional durations of nearly half an hour.
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The next graph shows the durations for the most recent three months with an expanded time scale. The durations occur along the minute gridlines because the temperature readings are taken once per minute, resulting in durations computed with a resolution of one minute.
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The duration histogram is shown next.
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The next three graphs show the monthly statistics. I produced three different Y-axis scales, one showing the full range, one limited to two days, and one limited to 12 hours.
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Activity since 1998  
Plate's activity was been monitored only in the summer months from 1998 to 2002, so the full cycle is not shown on the graphs. The first graph shows all of the intervals recorded since 1998. The intervals were always around 3h0m with very short intervals occurring following eruptions of Giantess Geyser until mid-2004 when some substantially longer intervals, up to 18 hours, began to appear. By the end of 2004 and throughout 2005 and 2006 there have been occasional very long intervals, well over 48 hours.
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The trend to increased intervals is seen more clearly in the next graph that shows the one-day moving median. The occurrences of near-zero median intervals represent Giantess Geyser eruptions.
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The last three charts show the monthly statistics. I have shown three different Y-axis scales to show both the overall increase in 2004-6 and the details of the variation at lower intervals in the latter two charts with expanded axes.
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Activity in 2010
Activity in 2009
Activity in 2008
Activity in 2007

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A rare concerted eruption of Boardwalk Geyser (eruption just starting on the left) and Plate Geyser.

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Plate Geyser as seen from the boardwalk near Sponge Geyser.

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Please note - this site is currently under constuction. Please visit for more information.  Last update 01-29-2017

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