Yellowstone eruption: Steamboat Geyser blast stuns scientists for 9th time this year | Science | News


The popular volcanic hotspot sprung into life just after 1am, US time, on Monday, June 11, US time, for the ninth time this year.

Steamboat Geyser has been dormant since 2014 but a recent string of regular eruptions took scientists by surprise.

Jamie Farrell, Yellowstone Observatory volcanologist, said: “Major eruptions over the past several weeks have been occurring with surprising regularity – every six to eight days – and the nine eruptions in 2018 ended a period of quiet that lasted 3.5 years.”

Steamboat Geyser first blew in April this year with a trio of spectacular eruptions – the first triple eruption in 15 years.

So far, most of the 2018 eruptions went off at night when visitors are not allowed in the park.

But Yellowstone National Park guests were treated to a surprise blast on June 4, when the geyser blew at 9.04am local time.

Dr Farrell, who personally witnessed the June 4 eruption, described the event in total awe.

The volcanologist said: “The eighth Steamboat eruption of 2018 will definitely be a memory that I will not soon forget – and it was witnessed by a large number of visitors.

“It was refreshing to see so many people excited about this geologic feature.

“If you want to witness a major eruption of Steamboat yourself, it has been erupting every six to eight days over the past several weeks. Do the math, and check it out for yourself.

“Maybe you’ll be as fortunate as I was and get to take home an exceptional memory of the tallest currently active geyser in the world in full eruption.”

Volcanic geysers like Steamboat eject a high-pressure jet of scolding hot water and steam several hundreds of feet high.

The June 4 eruption was marked by a stream of water reaching heights of 200 feet over a 30 minute period.

Dr Farrell said the event was companied by an incredible “roar” of bursting water.

Occasionally small rocks and debris will escape the geyser’s vent together with the hot water.

Geysers erupt whenever hot steam and water gets trapped in the intricate “plumbing” below the geyser’s vent holes.

Jeff Hungerford, Yellowstone National Park’s lead geologist, explained: “Each geyser kind of has their own personality

“And it has to do with the plumbing and how the heat is expressing itself through the system until it comes to the surface.”

And though the geyser eruptions might appear incredibly impressive and terrifying up close, Yellowstone scientists dispelled all concerns the regular eruptive pattern in somehow linked to the Yellowstone supervolcano.

Instead, old records show the powerful geyser undergoes regular periods of intense activity followed by dormancy.



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