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Steamboat Geyser (2018)

Geysers are hot springs that episodically erupt columns of water. They occur in few places on Earth. The highest concentration of geysers anywhere is at the Yellowstone Hotspot Volcano (northwestern Wyoming, USA).

Steamboat Geyser is located in the Back Basin of Yellowstone’s Norris Geyser Basin. Major eruptions of Steamboat Geyser are the tallest in the world. This feature first appeared on 11 August 1878 after a hydrothermal explosion. This was similar to, but larger than, the 5 September 1989 Porkchop Geyser hydrothermal explosion event, which occurred in the same geyser basin. Steamboat Geyser consists of two vents in a gentle hillside of rhyolitic ash-flow tuff (Lava Creek Tuff, lower Middle Pleistocene, 640 ka). Initially, the vents were powerful fumaroles that emitted steam and some mud. By 1879, moderately high to high geyser eruptions occurred. Small to large eruptions occurred at Steamboat Geyser from the late 1870s to the early 1910s, after which was a half-century of dormancy. Geyser eruptions resumed in the 1960s, followed by dormancy during the early and mid-1970s. More major eruptions occurred in the early 1980s, and only sporadic to rare activity from the mid-1980s to the 2000s. Three major eruptions occurred in May 2005, end-July 2013, and September 2014. Steamboat entered an active phase in spring 2018 and was remarkable for having semi-regular major eruptions (about once a week) in May to June 2018.

Major eruptions of Steamboat Geyser have fountains of water reaching over 100 feet high. The highest were close to 400 feet high – the highest on Earth. Major eruptions do not occur at regular intervals and thus are not predictable. The water phases of Steamboat’s major eruptions are about 3 to 40 minutes long, followed by hours of roaring fumarole activity (steam phase).

Normal activity at Steamboat Geyser consists of frequent splashing spouts that reach about 10 to 60 feet high – these are called minor eruptions. Emitted water at Steamboat Geyser is somewhat acidic and quite hot.

Clips 1-6 – Steamboat Geyser minor eruptions on 3 June 2018.

Clips 7-16 – Steamboat Geyser minor eruptions in the early morning of 4 June 2018. (time stamp 1:53)

Clips 17-54 – Steamboat Geyser’s 9:04 to 9:36 AM major eruption (water phase) on 4 June 2018. (time stamp 5:27)

Clips 55-82 – Steamboat Geyser’s 9:36 AM-onward major eruption (steam phase) on 4 June 2018. (time stamp 22:29)

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