This is what happens when you fall into one of Yellowstone’s hot springs

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming is one the most beautiful and remarkable places on Earth. It is renowned for its biodiversity which includes some incredibly resilient microorganisms. However, it also houses one of the most powerful supervolcanoes in the world.

The volcanic caldera is located atop the most powerful magma body in the world. It is fueled by an upwelling plume superheated material. The subterranean plumbing is dynamic and powerful. This means that water bodies below the surface, such as the numerous geysers or springs, are extremely acidic and extremely hot. They can also be deadly for animal life.

An unfortunate and clumsy individual chose to ignore all the warnings and plunge into Yellowstone’s hot springs. He not only fell in and died, but also dissolved completely within 24 hours.

It’s a terrible story. But, scientifically speaking, what happens when you fall into one of these doom pool? It is slow and painful. Or, it’s more like a slow, steady walk on the Sun’s surface.

Although the details are fascinating, they can be quite terrifying. If you’re nervous or not very curious, I recommend you stop reading right now. Brace yourself if you are still reading.


Your body would first register that you are bathing in water around 93°C (199°F). Although it would be unbearable, your nervous system will only register pain for as long as you allow. It won’t last more than a few minutes.


Your skin (epidermis), would rapidly break down at this temperature and then begin to dissolve. Soon after, your blood vessels in the underlying dermis will burst, leading to rapid blood loss. Instead of being broken down, some layers of your underlying skin will become dry and leathery. Your subcutaneous fat will soon also bubble up.

This is also known as a “full thickness” or “full-thickness” burn. It would occur in less than one minute in these waterways. The shock would cause irreversible damage to your nervous system. If the extreme heat stress hadn’t already caused them to shut down, this would result in many of your organs failing.

The water’s acidity will then take hold, leaving you dead in a matter of minutes. While some hot springs have alkaline waters, others – such as Norris Geyser Basin which the man fell into last year – have extremely acidic water with pH values around 2.

Your skeleton is not going to survive in the heat and acidity of these hot springs. In just a few hours, the entire body of a human being will be completely disintegrated in these hot springs.


It is obvious that hot springs should be viewed from afar, ladies and gentlemen. Happy New Year!

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