Mysterious Yellowstone Geyser Eruptions Can't Be Explained—Is it the Supervolcano?

Monday, 30 April 2018 - 10:47AM
Earth
Monday, 30 April 2018 - 10:47AM
Mysterious Yellowstone Geyser Eruptions Can't Be Explained—Is it the Supervolcano?
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Image credit: YouTube

The world has been watching Yellowstone with a wary eye for years now, waiting for some kind of sign that the area's resident supervolcano will either erupt or continue its fitful slumber. 

 

A supposed alien time traveler from the year 6491 (who, strangely enough, looks and sounds like a 21st-century English youth in a black hoodie) has warned that it's going to blow its top in the next 200 years, but we're more worried about the recent activity from the Steamboat Geyser, the world's largest geyser, located in Yellowstone. 



The Steamboat Geyser can shoot jets of boiling-hot water a spectacular 300 feet in the air, but it only erupts once every few years. What's concerning is that the geyser has erupted three times this year—March 15, April 19 and April 27.

 

Scientists are unsure what's causing the recent increase in the Steamboat Geyser's activity, but luckily for us, it sounds like this isn't a canary-in-a-coal-mine situation—according to Michael Poland, the scientist in charge of the USGS's Yellowstone Volcano Observatory: "There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent."



Steamboat Geyser has erupted multiple times in one year previously (the last time was 2003), and the recent spurt of eruptions can be chalked up to a "thermal disturbance" in the area, or just the unpredictability of geyser systems. The recent bursts of water have been smaller than usual, suggesting that the geyser's single, towering eruption has been split into shorter ones.

 

Still, the output of the two April eruptions were roughly 10 times bigger than the usual output of the famous Old Faithful.



Bottom line, the Yellowstone doomsday isn't coming yet. 

 

Hopefully, though, we'll see it coming—scientists have created a new map of the volcano's inner workings to help us understand what makes it tick.

 

 

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