A huge geyser at Yellowstone National Park has erupted for the third time in 6 weeks

Nature


In Yellowstone National Park, the world’s largest active geyser has been experiencing “unusual” eruptions.

Over the past six weeks, the Steamboat geyser has erupted three times, including once this week.

 

But don’t worry, there’s no evidence this is a sign of an impending supervolcano meltdown.

“There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent,” Michael Poland, the scientist in charge of the US Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told Jon Herskovitz for Reuters.

The geyser erupted on March 15, April 19, and April 27. It can shoot water as high as 91 metres (300 feet) into the air, although this year’s three eruptions were reportedly smaller than usual.

It’s not odd that the geyser has erupted – it is active, after all. But the last time it erupted three times in one year was in 2003.

The fact that it’s already erupted three times this year already (and we’re still in April) is unusual.

Before March 15, Steamboat Geyser hadn’t erupted since September 2014.

Geologists don’t have any answers for why this has happened as yet.

According to Reuters, it could indicate a “thermal disturbance in the geyser basin, or that Steamboat may be having smaller eruptions instead of one large”.

Or: “it might just reflect the randomness of geysers,” said Poland.

 

After all, geyser aren’t known to erupt on a regular schedule. 

The concern, of course, is that Yellowstone sits atop a giant, active volcano.

But for now researchers aren’t worried.

What would be more concerning, according to Herskovitz, would be the water in the hydrothermal systems drying up, which could indicate that super hot magma below the surface was making its way to the surface. 

According to the US National Park Service, we would have weeks, if not months or years, of warning before an eruption happens.

“Yellowstone hasn’t had a volcanic eruption for 70,000 years,” Jake Lowenstern, a USGS research geologist told Reuters. “Geysers erupt all the time.”

 



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