Yellowstone Geyser Vomits up 80 Years of Trash, Say Park Officials

February 17, 2019 Updated: February 17, 2019

A famed Yellowstone geyser as erupted 80 years worth of trash.

Ear Spring launched a number of items, including a 1930s pacifier, dozens of coins, and a warning sign.

“On September 15, 2018 Ear Spring erupted and ejected lots of decades-old trash,” Yellowstone officials said on Facebook. The last significant Ear Spring eruption was in 1957, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

After Ear Spring erupted on September 15, employees found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape…

Gepostet von Yellowstone National Park am Montag, 24. September 2018

“Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers. The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it’s nothing but natural rocks and water,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “You can help by never throwing anything into Yellowstone’s thermal features!”

Said a supervisory park ranger to FourStatesHomePage.com: “You might think that if you toss something in a hot spring or in a geyser that it disappears, but it doesn’t disappear. It stays in that and what normally happens is you can actually plug up a feature and kill the feature. And that’s happened in many places in the park.”

The USGS said the spring has erupted just four times in 60 years, most recently in 2004, LiveScience noted. The geyser is located on Yellowstone’s Geyser Hill near world-famous Old Faithful.

“An approximately 8-foot diameter area of surrounding ground is ‘breathing’ – rising and falling by about six inches every 10 minutes,” USGS experts said in a news release a few weeks ago.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory wrote at the time of the Ear Spring eruption: “Ear Spring, a normally docile hot pool, had a water eruption that reached 20 to 30 feet high on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.”

“The eruption ejected not only rocks, but also material that had fallen or been thrown into the geyser in years past, like coins, old cans, and other human debris,” it said. “The last known similar-sized eruption of the spring was in 1957, although smaller eruptions occurred as recently as 2004. As a result of these changes, Yellowstone National Park has closed portions of the boardwalk.”

Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park. The park is dotted with geysers and hot springs fueled by subterranean volcanic activity. (commons.wikimedia.org)
Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park. The park is dotted with geysers and hot springs fueled by subterranean volcanic activity. (commons.wikimedia.org)

Supervolcano?

In recent months, USGS and park officials have stressed that there have been no signs of volcanic activity at the park.

There have been a bevy of reports in recent years, namely from U.K. tabloids, that the Yellowstone “supervolcano” is about to erupt due to geyser activity or rockfall in the area that officials have said was not linked to any seismic activity.

The Express tabloid on Sept. 21, in its headline, attempted to link the Yellowstone supervolcano to Ear Spring.

(Hsin-Hua Huang, University of Utah)

“Changes in Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features are common occurrences and do not reflect changes in activity of the Yellowstone volcano.”

Shifts in hydrothermal systems occur only [in] the upper few hundred feet of the Earth’s crust and are not directly related to movement of magma several kilometers deep. There are no signs of impending volcanic activity. There has been no significant increase in seismicity nor broad-scale variations in ground movement,” said the USGS.

Steamboat Sets Record

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory said the Steamboat geyser produced 32 eruptions in 2018.

This, according to the agency, breaks the record of 29 set in 1964.

The Steamboat geyser, which is the tallest active geyser on Earth, became more active in May 2018, and “entered a phase of more frequent water eruptions, much like it did in the 1960s and early 1980s,” according to the agency.

An updated photo shows Yellowstone’s Steamboat Geyser (National Park Service)

The agency added: “Although these eruptions do not have any implications for future volcanic activity at Yellowstone—after all, geysers are supposed to erupt, and most are erratic, like Steamboat—they are nonetheless spectacular,” Newsweek reported.

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