Disasters · Wyoming

Man accidentally falls into a “superheated, acidic mud pot” in Yellowstone

June 7, 2016
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Colin Scott (23) slips into a boiling, acidic spring

Colin and his sister Sable deviated from a boardwalk into an area not intended for visitors. While near a “superheated, acidic mud pot,” Colin lost his footing and fell in. Stable attempted to call for help and injured herself in an attempt to rescue Colin. She was able to record the moments before Colin disappeared into the spring which she later gave to officials reviewing the incident. The video has not been made public and the official transcription has been redacted from the public report of the incident. (The public report can be read here.)

A report filed by one of the first Park Rangers to arrive on scene noted portions of Colin’s head, upper torso, and hand were visible, though no movement was detected. The rangers were unable to retrieve Colin’s body at the time due to an approaching electrical storm and fading sunlight. Park crews arrived the following morning to recover Colin’s body, but, between the high acidity of the water and the intense heat, Colin’s remains were unable to be recovered.

The superheated pots are able to reach temperatures over 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius) due to high pressure. The pressure allows the waters to exceed the boiling point without evaporating and suppresses bubbles associated with boiling, making the waters appear deceptively calm.

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