Following on from yesterday’s earthquake news at Yellowstone, and no, this does NOT mean that Yellowstone is imminently going to erupt, what would be more interesting is observing whether the seismic activity has altered the eruptive activity of the geysers.
Half of the worlds’ geysers are located within Yellowstone National Park. They only form in very special conditions, and each geyser is completely unique.
Geysers are very sensitive to three things in particular: 1) the supply of ground heat, 2) the supply of water, 3) changes to their plumbing system, e.g. due to earthquakes.
If, for example, previously active geysers have suddenly stopped since the earthquake and its aftershocks, or the repose time (the time inbetween each geyser eruption) has suddenly changed, this can provide useful information as to which areas of the National Park have been affected by the earthquake.
One of my previous research areas was three of Yellowstone’s geysers – Great Fountain Geyser, Sawmill Geyser, and Lone Star Geyser – which all display completely different behaviours. However, if you would like to know more or even to participate in some citizen science this summer, the people to contact are the geyser gazers of Yellowstone.
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