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The once quiet Ear Spring hot water pool, in Yellowstone’s Geyser Hill area, erupted for the first time in over 10 years last weekend. The thermal spring shot boiling water between 20 and 30 feet into the air, as well as rubble and rubbish, according to a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“The eruption ejected not only rocks, but also materials that had fallen or been thrown into the geyser in years past, like coins, old cans and other human debris,” said the report.
The spring continues to spurt water and rocks at a height of approximately two feet.
Ear Spring, named for its resemblance to an ear, hasn’t experienced an eruption of this magnitude since 1957, although the geyser displayed smaller-scale activity in 2004.
Following Ear Spring’s notable outburst, there’s been a noticeable uptick in hydrothermal activity on Geyser Hill. In addition to increased “geysering” and bubbling at Doublet Pool and North Goggles Geyser, the USGS report said that an entirely new feature appeared overnight, expelling water and “breathing:” a noticeable rising and falling of the surrounding earth.
But park spokesperson Neal Herbert assured the public that the recent events are not a harbinger for a volcanic eruption, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The USGS echoed the sentiment, explaining that hydrothermal activity is not correlated to seismic activity.
As a result of the activity in Yellowstone’s Upper Grey Basin, portions of the boardwalk have been temporarily closed. And though it’s too soon to say for sure, the USGS speculates that it’s likely either the thermal grounds will continue to expand and shift for many years, or there’s an impending “small hydrothermal explosion.”
Basically, that could mean an even greater hot water and rock explosion is in the forecast for Geyser Hill.
The wild geologic activity in Yellowstone this week closely mirrors some out-of-the-ordinary human activity, too. AP News reported that a man was arrested Thursday for walking “dangerously close” to the park’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful, just a day before Ear Spring’s eruption. And last Friday, a man was ticketed for urinating in Old Faithful.
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