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Yellowstone’s geysers are more active and no one knows why

connectVideoYellowstone geysers are more active and no one knows why

Something strange is going on in Yellowstone National Park. Geysers that would once erupt every half century are now steam spouting every week.

Something strange is going on in Yellowstone National Park. Geysers that would once erupt every half century are now steam spouting every week.

And, at the end of last year, a dormant geyser named Ear Spring — vomited 80 years worth of waste. The spring is the last major blow was in 1957. So, when it exploded at a height of about 9m in September, National Parks spent days collecting old coins, beer cans, and even a 1930’s baby’s dummy from the environment.

“An approximately 8 meter diameter area of the surrounding land is ‘breathing’ — rising and falling about six inches to the 10 minutes, ” USGS researchers said.

During the eruption offered an interesting time capsule, it also represents what the researchers call an unusual increase of the geyser activity.

The Steamboat geyser used to erupt irregularly, sometimes after a period of just four days or as long as 50 years. The last time is sending spouts of steaming water 90m high in the air one time per week.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory says it erupted 32 times last year.

However, USGS and the park officials have indicated in recent months there have been no signs of volcanic activity.

“Changes in Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features occurring events and not with the changes in the activity of the Yellowstone volcano,” they said in a statement.

This is because the hydrothermal system where water pools among the cracks in the rocks of the earth’s surface is limited to mainly just the top 30 feet or so.

The magma that triggers volcanic activity is located a few kilometers deeper.

“There is no significant increase of seismic activity, nor broadscale variations in ground movement,” says the USGS.

And the geysers’ behavior remains erratic.

“It is a good lesson in how geysers actually work,” Michael Poland, the scientist-in-charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told National Geographic. “As soon as you start to recognize a pattern, it changes.”

OVER-FILLED ‘KETTLE’

The increase of the activity happens in the Norris Geyser Basin, which has a reputation for being one of the hottest and most capricious thermal areas within the national park.

“As geysers go, Steamboat is a kind of typical in terms of having this sporadic, unpredictable outbursts,” Poland says. “But because this is a really big geyser and the this name has the recognition, it makes it that much more interesting.”

Whatever it is that the cause of this increase in activity, it doesn’t seem to have anything directly to do with the supervolcano under. Very little has changed in the magma movements.

What has changed is the amount of snow dumped in the park by the ‘Polar Vortex’ events. The past winters have been particularly snowy, adding additional water to water reservoirs.

Simply put, the surface ‘kettle’ is probably starting to overflow.

But, if there is still no way to measure water levels, Poland says: “we are just speculating.”

This story was previously published in the news.com.au.

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