The iconic Yellowstone volcano landmark is the world’s tallest and most active geyser but recent activity has gone off the charts. Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) geologists monitoring the supervolcano complex have noted almost weekly water eruptions from the geyser this year. Steamboat has so far erupted a total of 29 times in 2018, matching the record for most eruptions in one year from 1964. If the ongoing rate of eruptions continues, officials believe Steamboat will break the record in just three days.
The geyser, in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin, has an average eruptive frequency of four days to 10 years.
During eruption it can spew near-boiling jets of water between 10ft to 300ft (3m to 91.4m) high.
Eruptions typically last between one and four minutes and can come with intervals of two to five minutes at a time.
The most recent eruption was recorded on November 28 at 8.37pm local time.
The YVO said: “Steamboat geyser seems to have settled into a pattern of near-weekly water eruptions, with activity on November 7, 15, 21, and 28.
“There have now been 29 total Steamboat water eruptions in 2018, which ties the record for the most eruptions in any given calendar year, previously set in 1964.”
Years may pass in-between Steamboat eruptions with the longest recent dry spell lasting more than eight years.
From May 23, 2005, to July 31, 2013, Steamboat remained quiet for eight years and 212 days.
However from March this year, the geyser has shown incredible and almost clock-like activity.
When the geyser erupted on March 15, it ended a more than three-year-long period of peace and quiet.
The last five eruptions were recorded on November 28, November 21, November 15, November 7 and October 31.
Alongside the increased frequency of Steamboat eruptions, YVO scientists have also witnessed a high amount of seismic activity in the Yellowstone area.
A total of 126 earthquakes were recorded through the park and outlying areas through the month of November.
The strongest of the deep tremors was a magnitude 2.4 quake on November 4.
The YVO said: “During November 2018, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, responsible for the operation and analysis of the Yellowstone Seismic Network, located 126 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region.
“The largest event was a minor earthquake of magnitude 2.4 located 15 miles north of West Yellowstone, MT, on November 4, at 10:11 AM MST.
“This earthquake is part of ongoing seismicity in that area – site of last year’s three-month-long Maple Creek swarm – which includes a swarm of 57 located earthquakes that started on November 4 and lasted throughout the month.”
A second cluster of 22 earthquakes was recorded between November 21 and November 26, about 16 miles south-southwest of Mammoth, Wyoming.
Park officials said earthquake sequences like this are “common” and account for about 50 percent of all seismic activity in the park.
Yellowstone earthquake activity currently remains at “background levels”.