Steamboat Geyser Erupted 48 Times in ’19

Steamboat_Plume NPS:Dave Krueger

The number of eruptions by the end of 2019 was 48 for Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. That’s a record! The previous year, the geyser surprised park officials by spouting off 32 times. Steamboat, which has the distinction of being the highest erupting geyser in world, has a very irregular record for eruptions, and at times has gone 50 years without as single one. The 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake, 7.5 on the Richter Scale, was centered outside the western boundary of Yellowstone.

Two years later, for the first time in 50 years, Steamboat Geyser erupted. Some scientists believe this rejuvenation was a direct result of thermal energy shifts caused by the 1959 quake; others say it was coincidental. As of now, there is still no clear correlation between Steamboat’s eruptions and earthquake activity. Over the years, Steamboat’s eruptions have been sporadic. Some years saw frequent eruptions, such as 1982–1983, when dozens of eruptions occurred.

Quiet periods throughout the 1990’s and late 2000’s were marked by years of dormancy between single eruptions. Park officials however say one thing is known, Steamboat Geyser’s future eruptions will continue to be unpredictable.


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