28 April 2018
The world’s largest active geyser has erupted for the third time in less than six weeks.
Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park, erupted at around 6.30am local time on Friday morning, geologists said.
The eruption is the latest event in a rare period of activity at the geyser this year, following similar water discharges on March 15 and April 19 this year.
Before this year, Steamboat had not erupted since September 2014.
The US Geological Survey said all events so far in 2018 had been smaller than recent major activity observed in 2013 and 2014.
“Like most geysers, eruptions of Steamboat can’t be predicted, they may be days or decades apart,” Yellowstone said in a tweet.
Steamboat, located in the Norris Geyser Basin, can shoot a column of water up to 115 metres (380 feet) into the air, making it the world’s tallest active geyser.
Scientists have only ever recorded more powerful eruptions at the Waimangu Geyser in New Zealand, which has now been extinct for more than a century.
The geyser is around three times taller than Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s most famous geyser known for erupting at intervals of between 45 and 125 minutes.
The extensive geothermal activity at the park is caused by a magma chamber more than 50 miles (80km) long and 12 miles (20km) wide beneath the earth’s surface.
Often referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano or the Yellowstone Caldera, the area produced the Huckleberry Ridge supereruption 2.1 million years ago.
The event is thought to have been 2,500 times larger than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980, the most recent major volcanic activity in the mainland US.