It was fun while it lasted: After coming back to life with frequent eruptions in 2018 though this year, Steamboat Geyser has gone quiet again, with no eruptions so fan in June and July 2021.
Now, this isn’t to say that Steamboat couldn’t start erupting again this afternoon. The total lack of predictability is something beloved by many observers. But Steamboat Geyser tends to be streaky: it will go quiet for long periods of time, followed by shorter periods of activity.
The last documented eruption was on May 31. That came after a dormant streak of 26 days. From Jackson Hole Radio News:
Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Scientist in Charge, Michael Poland told Jackson Hole Radio News, “This is the sort of thing that is expected, Steamboat goes through periods of elevated activity and then returns to periods of less activity, so we knew the current show would eventually end.” Poland says he is uncertain whether the availability of water is the primary or a secondary reason for the recent lack of eruptions.
Poland says, “Recent research suggests that Old Faithful even turned off for about 150 years during a period 650-800 years ago when there was a major regional drought, the same one that led to the large-scale abandonment of Native America cultures in the Southwest. So, I suspect that might play a role.”
If it does go to sleep, Poland says it will offer the opportunity to study what goes on in a geyser during its dormant period.
The rumination about the lack of water being a factor touches on the hot and dry conditions plaguing Yellowstone as well as the rest of the American West. Again, the only predictable thing about Steamboat Geyser resumptions is their unpredictability.
P.S. And just like that, after we prepped this article, there was a report of Steamboat erupting.
Image courtesy National Park Service.
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