The tallest active geyser in the world may be erupting for the first time since 2014, according to the National Park Service.
Yellowstone National Park employees reported seeing the Steamboat Geyser erupt on Thursday evening, the park service announced Friday. Park geologists then compared the accounts to thermal sensors in the area and determined it “could be a series of minor eruptions.”
Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest geyser and can shoot hot water up to 380 feet in the air.
Wednesday, Sept 3, 2014: Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone’s Norris Back Basin erupted unexpectedly Wednesday evening. Rosa Prasser, a Yellowstone Ranger, witnessed the eruption at 11:00 pm.
Steamboat Geyser is in the Norris Geyser Basin, which is currently closed to vehicle access for spring plowing.
Unlike Old Faithful, which, as its name indicates, erupts on a relatively predictable timeline, Steamboat Geyser is impossible to anticipate.
It went eight years without a major eruption before shooting water into the sky on July 31, 2013 and again on Sept. 3, 2014, according to a 2014 report by the United States Geological Survey.
Historically, the geyser has gone anywhere from four days to 50 years in between eruptions.
Yellowstone National Park contains more than 10,000 thermal features and sits on top of the world’s largest volcano, capable of sending 2,000 times more matter into the sky than the Mount St. Helens eruption. The last volcanic eruption at Yellowstone was 70,000 years ago.
Steamboat eruptions, as with other geysers in Yellowstone, have little if any connection to the deeper volcano, said Jacob Lowenstern, former scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.
“Their plumbing systems are in the upper few hundred feet of the Earth,” he said. “As you get hotter and hotter and deeper and deeper, the permeability and ability of water to move around shuts off. There’s not a whole lot of connectivity of the reservoirs once you get deep.”
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2013 Steamboat Geyser eruption
On September 25, 2013, Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser — the world’s tallest — has erupted for the first time in more than eight years.
The nine-minute blast sent steaming hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air, park geologist Hank Heasler said on August 1st, 2013.
The geyser is in a popular viewing area known as the Norris Geyser Basin, and its eruption at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday drew dozens of excited onlookers, said Robb Long, a freelance photographer from Sioux Falls, S.D., who was visiting the park with his fiancé and her family.
“It was an amazing experience. This thing sounded like a locomotive,” Long said. “Everybody was frantic, taking pictures. People were running down there trying to get to it before it went away, and park rangers were running around trying to gather up people, so they didn’t get too close.”
Friday, 5 May 2000,
Steamboat: First major eruption since 1991
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse
The world’s tallest active geyser burst back into life this week.
Campers thought it was an earthquake
The geyser at the Yellowstone National Park in the United States, threw up a giant column of hot water and steam at about 0500 hrs. on Tuesday.
It is the first time in nine years that Steamboat, as it is affectionately known, has erupted in a major way.
Two park visitors, sleeping nearby in their camper van, said they were abruptly awakened by what they thought was an earthquake.
They were frightened by what had happened and drove south toward Madison. Only when they looked back did they see the huge vapor plume and decided to return to the geyser
By the time a park employee had arrived on the scene, a dense wet mist had enveloped most of the area around the geyser. Steamboat was said to be emitting a tremendous roar and to have pushed a vapor plume 150 meters (500 feet) into the air.
Experts say that Steamboat Geyser rarely erupts this dramatically. More commonly, it ejects water in frequent bursts of 3-12 meters (10-40 feet) in height. Most major eruptions will go over 90 meters (300 feet), showering viewers with mineral-rich waters.
But this is an extremely rare event. Steamboat was dormant from 1911-1961. In recent years, it has erupted in 1989 (3 times), 1990 (1 time), and 1991 (1 time).
October 2, 1991
May 2, 2000
April 26, 2002
September 13, 2002
March 26, 2003
April 27, 2003
October 22, 2003
May 23, 2005
July 31, 2013
September 3, 2014