To say that the Yellowstone National Park geyser fields have been unusually active this summer is an understatement, and we have some new Geyser Hill thermal activity to report, including a rare eruption of Ear Spring hot pool.
Geyser Hill is located in the Upper Geyser Basin, access the Firehole River from Old Faithful. It’s in this area where increased thermal activity has been documented, including new erupting vents splashing water on the boardwalks and some new surface fractures. (According to the USGS, a new feature has formed west of Pump Geyser and north of Sponge Geyser directly under the boardwalk.) The activity is to the point where some boardwalks and trails are temporarily closed due to the splashing water.
The eruption of Ear Spring is especially noteworthy — even in a year where Steamboat Geyser has now erupted 19 times. Ear Spring is a hot pool in Geyser Hill and hasn’t had a major eruption since 1957, though there has been smaller eruptions in intervening years. The Ear Spring hot-pool eruption was major, as tall as 30 feet by some accounts. Besides the water, the eruption featured rock as well as materials thrown into the pool by humans, including old cans and coins.
With the new thermal activity, there may be changes to the boardwalk system in Geyser Hill. There’s always the chance of a hydrothermal explosion a la Porkchop Geyser in 1989, when the trail system was altered in the Norris Geyser Basin. Or if these new thermal features take root, the current boardwalk configuration would be changed. In either case, there are probably some changes in store come 2019.
Photo of Ear Spring (2012) courtesy Yellowstone National Park.