Reawakened Yellowstone geyser won’t predict the volcanic ‘big one’

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The famous Steamboat geyser in Yellowstone National Park won’t foretell a major volcanic eruption, according to scientists.

The geyser in the Norris Geyser basin shoots water more than 300 feet into the air during its major eruptions.

Steamboat, which is the world’s tallest active geyser, reawakened with prolific eruptions in 2018 after 34 years of sporadic activity. The geyser erupted on March 15, 2018, after 3.5 years of inactivity.

Steamboat’s return to activity sparked speculation that it could indicate future volcanic eruptions in the surrounding geyser basin, according to UC Berkeley’s website.

New research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests this is not the case. 

Scientists have found few indications of the movement of magma or molten rock, that would be necessary for an eruption, according to UC Berkeley.

“We don’t find any evidence that there is a big eruption coming. I think that is an important takeaway,” said Michael Manga, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley and the study’s senior author.

The research was led by UC Berkeley graduate student Mara Reed and also involved experts from Columbia University, the University of Chile, Rice University, the University of Utah, the University of Alaska, Brown University, the University of Texas at El Paso, Yellowstone National Park and the US Geological Survey.

The Steamboat geyser is an incredible sight, according to the National Park Service, with the water phase of a major eruption lasting from three to more than 40 minutes.

“Once the water supply is exhausted, the geyser continues with a powerful steam phase lasting several hours to several days,” the National Park Service explains on its website. “Its roar is so great that conversation near the geyser is difficult and visitors in the Norris Campground, a mile to the north, have been awakened by the noise.”

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