2018 was a busy year for the Steamboat Geyser. The hot spring located in Yellowstone National Park erupted a record 31 times. Before this year, it was known to only erupt periodically.
Michael Poland, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, said Steamboat erupting doesn’t actually mean anything’s changed, geologically speaking.
“It’s an anticlimactic answer but it’s true. Most geysers are not like Old Faithful in that they’re not predictable and erupt regularly. They can respond to subtle changes in their plumbing systems,” he said.
But Poland said the activity will now allow scientists to learn more about the park’s plumbing system. In fact, he said 2018 was an average year in terms of geological activity like earthquakes.
“As of mid-November, there were about 1,800 earthquakes. There have been many more since then so probably in the neighborhood of 2,000 earthquakes which is right on average for Yellowstone,” said Poland.
But he said one of the more exciting research results of the year is that water not magma or molten material has been causing swarms of earthquakes in the park.