World’s Largest Geyser Erupts, and Scientists Don’t Know Why

May 14, 2018 Updated: May 14, 2018    

Yellowstone’s Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest active geyser, erupted over the weekend, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that the eruption took place at 4 a.m. on Sunday, May 13.

The geyser has gone through significant lengths of inactivity, with its last eruption reported in 2014. But in 2018, the Steamboat Geyser erupted four previous times on March 15, April 19, April 27, and May 4.

Scientists aren’t sure why the geyser erupted for the fifth time in a few months.

“It is a spectacular geyser. When it erupts, it generally has very big eruptions,” Michael Poland, of the USGS, told CNN.

The eruptions, he noted, are smaller than in the past.

In April, eruptions discharged between 200 and 400 cubic meters of water each, which is approximately 10 times the amount of water discharged by the famed Old Faithful geyser’s eruptions.

“Most geysers erupt infrequently, unlike Old Faithful, so Steamboat is not enigmatic in that regard. But Steamboat has a mystique about it because it is the tallest active geyser in the world. It gets attention because of this, and rightly so,” Poland told the network.

Earlier this month, as reported by KTVB, scientists deployed 28 seismographs around the Steamboat Geyser to obtain more data.

As reported by the Independent, geologists had to quell fears that the Yellowstone supervolcano was going to erupt.

Officials said Steamboat “also had frequent eruptions in the 1960s and early 1980s.”

“No implications for volcanic activity, but good implications for viewing some spectacular geysering this summer,” officials added.

The majority of geysers produce erratic activity, and the recent eruptions “might just reflect the randomness of geysers,” Poland said, according to the Washington Post. “This is what geysers do. They erupt,” Poland said.

“Yellowstone has this strange psychology to it about a world-ending event,” he noted, saying that the chance of it erupting in the near future is quite remote.

“It’s cool, it’s exciting, it’s neat,” Poland said about geyser eruptions. “It’s nothing to be afraid about.”

The supervolcano that exists below Yellowstone Park blows its top every few hundred thousand years, according to researchers. One geologist, Christy Till of Arizona State University, said there is a possibility of a massive volcanic eruption there “1 in 730,000” in any given year, USA Today reported.

 

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