Steamboat Geyser in steam phase, September 2014
Steamboat Geyser, 2014

Keeping Track of Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Capable of shooting water 300 feet in the air, steam bellowing from its vent, Steamboat Geyser is the tallest active geyser in the world.

With that kind of capability, you’d assume Steamboat Geyser would be the star attraction of Yellowstone National Park.

However, Steamboat is all but unpredictable. At the very least, it’s not predictable the same way, say, Old Faithful is. Steamboat can go months to years without erupting, kicking out steam and water bursts, keeping visitors and staff eternally hopeful.

This year, however, it’s had a pretty good run so far.

Steamboat has erupted three times this year, breaking its silence of nearly four years. The first eruption happened March 15, followed by April 19 and April 27.

Each time, the eruption was reported either by visitors/staff lucky enough to be in the area or by geologists looking at seismometers tracking activity in Norris Geyser Basin. Given how unpredictable Steamboat can be, you have to be immensely lucky to see Steamboat Geyser in action—in person, that is.

To give you an idea of what it’s like to see Steamboat Geyser erupt, Yellowstone and the National Park Service produced a neat video featuring narration from park staff and footage of Steamboat erupting.

The video discusses Steamboat’s last major eruption, which happened September 3, 2014.

According to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, although Steamboat has had a good streak this year, all three eruptions were perceptibly smaller and less intense than the 2014 one.

As for what the future holds for Steamboat, it’s hard to say. The geyser could keep erupting every so often throughout 2018, posting small but noteworthy eruptions. It could decide to ramp up and start producing taller eruptions—or it could decide to go back to sleep.

In the meantime, we’ll be keeping our eyes on Steamboat Geyser—along with NPS rangers, geologists, and the many visitors who make the trip out to Yellowstone National Park.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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