Scientists have said that the Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park keeps erupting erratically and they can’t pinpoint a reason. This recent activity is a new record for the geyser, which has come back to life in recent years.
According to the Billings Gazette, the Steamboat geysers’ eruptions are historic. This recent activity is the shortest time ever recorded between eruptions. Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser blasted steam and water into the air at 12:52 p.m. local time on June 12. Then, three days, 3 hours and 48 minutes later at 4:40 p.m. on June 15, it blasted steam and water into the air again, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS)’s Volcano Hazards Program. That’s a new record for the geyser.
The newspaper also reported that the eruptions were especially dramatic, large and loud, with one ejecting a rock that shattered a wooden post. Researchers don’t have good, tested theories to explain why geysers like one this slip in and out of active periods, according to the Gazette. Which can be translated as: we have no idea what the hell is going on, all we know is don’t panic. “Geysers are supposed to erupt, and most are erratic, like Steamboat,” the USGS wrote in a statement. Meaning, don’t worry about the supervolcano erupting any time soon. Especially considering Steamboat’s eruptions records only go back to 1982, the Billings Gazette noted. Of course, Yellowstone’s history is much older than that.
The eruptions suggest that now is a particularly good time to go see Steamboat Geyser erupt if you are interested in doing so. After all, the scientists say its perfectly safe. The geyser set a record for the total number of eruptions back in 2018, with 32 in the calendar year, according to USGS. Already in 2019, there have been 24 eruptions, six of them in June at the time of Billings Gazette’s reporting.
“I wish I could tell you,” said Michael Manga, of the University of California, Berkeley, who studies geysers when asked why Steamboat has been more active. “I think this is what makes Steamboat, and geysers in general, so fascinating is that there are these questions we can’t answer.” Manga, however, was a bit more cautious about the geyser’s activity. He stressed that it “should trouble everyone” that scientists can’t better explain geysers since they are similar in many respects to their much more dangerous cousin, the volcano. Steamboat sits atop the Yellowstone supervolcano, a large caldera that has erupted in the past.
Michael Poland, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, said the irregularity of Steamboat is just “a geyser being a geyser.” Poland added: “Steamboat clearly has a mind of its own “and right now it’s putting its independence on display.”