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Yellowstone geyser has erupted a record-breaking number of times this year

Tuesday, October 15th 2019, 7:36 pm - Geysers naturally experience periods of heightened activity

The Steamboat Geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park, is the world's tallest currently active geyser and has had a record-breaking number of eruptions this year.

As of October 1, the Steamboat Geyser erupted 37 times compared to the previous record of 32 times last year. Before 2018 the record for the highest number of eruptions recorded in one year was 29 in 1964.

June was also a notable month for this geyser since the record was set for the shortest interval between eruptions, at just over three days.

The updates on this active geyser come from Mike Poland, who is the Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and provides monthly updates of the activity at Yellowstone.

wiki cc steamboat geyser eruption Steamboat geyser eruption in May, 2005. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Geysers naturally experience fluctuations in their activity and is typically not a cause for concern. While the relationship between geyser eruptions and earthquake activity is a popular misconception, national park visitors have nothing to worry about, explained Poland in an interview with CNN.

Poland stated that a possible explanation for Steamboat's recent activity could be the increase in groundwater at Yellowstone to due years of heavy snowfall that eventually melted and flowed into the geysers and hot springs.

Yellowstone National Park is famous for its unique geothermal features, such as Old Faithful and the Yellowstone supervolcano. Data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts approximately every 730,000 years and it has been 640,000 years since the last eruption.

If a supereruption from Yellowstone were to happen, over 1,000 cubic kilometres of magma would spread from the centre of the eruption cover most of North America in a blanket of ash, which would kill significant amounts of vegetation and could cool the climate.

ash cloud wiki cc The distance of volcanic ash fall if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted. Credit: USGS

The USGS says that calculations based on Yellowstone's past three eruptions suggest that the yearly probability of a Yellowstone eruption is approximately 1 in 730,000 or 0.00014 per cent.

While scientists do not know when Yellowstone will erupt again, the supervolcano is continuously being monitored by USGS scientists for signs of activity using seismographs to detect earthquakes and GPS to detect ground motion.

Sources: USGS | CNN


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