It does not happen often, but if it does, it's the highest active geyser in the world. The steamboat Geyser – known to emit a 300 foot water column in the air – broke out for the third time on April 27th.
Based on seismic data, these recent eruptions are a little smaller than in the past. Even if these recent eruptions are smaller, they are still impressive compared to, say, Old Faithful.
Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is erupting at an unusual rate.
The April Steamboat eruptions released about 200 to 400 cubic meters of water, about 1
Prior to March 15, the last time this geyser emanated was in September 2014.
On the day of the first eruption, Park employees noted activity on nearby seismometers, thermal gauges, and runoff on a US Geological Survey electricity gauge ,
Comparison of seismic signals from eruptions in 2013, 2014 and 2018 at Steamboat Geyser
Yellowstone National Park Staff arrived in time to watch steam from the geyser but no water column. According to the geological service, this is common after a heavy outbreak of water. The vapor phase can take several hours.
It is not known that a person has observed the first water column of these three eruptions. At this time of year, the Norris Geyser Basin is closed to tourists until the snow melts and the winter damage to the trails can be repaired.
If there were no sensors near the eruption site – and the scattered stones and mud were expelled from the geyser – that would be little confirmation.
Behnaz Hosseini took this picture of Steamboat Geyser during the steam phase after the March 16 eruption.
Behnaz Hosseini / USGS / National Park Service
Scientists missed the second outbreak in just a few minutes. A team of Yellowstone National Park geologists was in the area for the eruption on April 19, but the geyser was activated just 15 minutes after they left the area.
The activity of the third eruption was observed by a driver driving through the area. Once the trails are clear, guests can hike to Geyser.
Scientists are not sure if the new activity is due to a new thermal disturbance or if the geyser is just entering a period of more frequent eruptions, as in the 1980s when numerous eruptions of the geyser were separated by weeks or even times were days. Several eruptions occurred in 2003.
Or the USGS notes, "the current eruptions can simply reflect the randomness of geysers." It could take years before it breaks out again.