The World’s Tallest Active Geyser in Yellowstone and Scientists Are Baffled

Photo: NPR

Something strange is happening at the tallest geyser in the world in Yellowstone Park – and scientists can’t explain it. Steamboat Geyser does not shoot up often, but over the past six weeks, the geyser has erupted three times.

Even though scientists are baffled as to why the geyser has suddenly become so active, don’t panic. They don’t believe it is an indication that Yellowstone’s supervolcano is getting ready to erupt.

The last time Steamboat Geyser was this active was in 2003. Normally, it can go a year or more between eruptions. The park is still covered in deep snow, but reports of the geyser erupting were observed on Friday around 6:30 am. This is the third time it has erupted since March 15. Before that, it’s last major eruption was in 2014.

Not a Sign of Impending Doom

The spike in activity has puzzled scientists who closely monitor Yellowstone. This crown jewel of the US national park system rests on top of a supervolcano measuring 70km across.

Though scientists say the reasons for the spate of eruptions is unclear, Observatory officials cautioned this activity is not a sign of impending doom.

“There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent,” said the observatory scientist in charge, Michael Poland. The last eruption was 70,000 years ago, and there are no signs of another one, including the recent Steamboat activity, he said Sunday.

Scientists aren’t sure whether the new activity is due to a new thermal disturbance or whether the geyser is merely entering a period of more frequent eruptions. In the 1980s numerous eruptions from the geyser were separated by weeks or even days. Multiple eruptions also occurred in 2003.

Or, the US Geological Survey notes, “the current eruptions may simply reflect the randomness of geysers.” It could be years until it erupts again

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